I Am Not Defined By My Weight - Part VII Pregnancy
This piece is Part 7 of a 9 Part Series called I Am Not Defined By My Weight, inspired by Rachel Hollis' book "Girl, wash your face".
I’m not sure if I am a unicorn, but I LOVED being pregnant.
Let me explain….
Since the beginning of our relationship, David and I knew we wanted kids.
Once we were married, we were ready to start a family. Unfortunately, we spent a majority of our first year of marriage apart, so needless to say, visiting each other for a random weekend every three months was not cutting it.
During that year, I prayed to God for a child, and I prayed for my pregnancy experience. I didn't want to focus on the weight gain. I didn't want to hate my body or be depressed about how big I grew.
I wanted to embrace the blessing of growing a child inside of me.
I wanted to love being pregnant and it wasn’t because I wanted to show off or brag. I believed that pregnancy was God’s greatest gift and I wanted to believe it, portray it and share that belief with others.
When the day finally arrived that we were pregnant, it was surreal.
A few weeks into the pregnancy I started noticing a difference.
My body was exhausted (I had to take naps at work to make it through the day).
I felt bloated beyond belief—the little peanut inside of me became known as our flubber baby. There was no way that at 13/14 weeks I was already showing… it was just bloating and flubber.
And then came nausea. I could not stand the sight or smell of chicken without running to the bathroom to vomit. It became the daily norm to feel nauseous and get sick.
But you know what, I loved being nauseous because it made me lose weight!
When I learned I was pregnant, another realization came to me as well—I was no longer on the weight-loss train…
A New Journey
Y'all, I got pregnant at my heaviest weight ever. I was so disappointed and terrified to hear what the doctor had to say. When nausea/vomiting made me lose weight, it was a blessing in disguise.
Around 17 weeks is when the nausea went away, and I started to gain weight slowly. Here is where the stress started to happen. The doctor informed me I was "morbidly obese" and should only gain 15 pounds, so I began to view weight gain kind of like a budget.
Every pound I gained, I removed from the allotted 15 pounds I was "authorized". Once I entered my Third trimester, I knew only gaining 15 pounds was going to be impossible.
I didn't understand. My eating habits hadn't changed drastically. I wasn't craving crazy foods or eating massive amounts of food, but I was gaining a few pounds here and there, and the scale was no longer moving down.
I had to make the decision to stop weighing myself frequently because it started making me obsessed. There was nothing I could do about gaining weight except try to eat better.
When I stopped weighing myself, I embraced the big belly. This was the only time where I could highlight my belly rather than trying to suck it in and hide it.
I felt strong.
I felt beautiful.
I felt great.
When Expectations Don't Meet Reality
My pregnancy did not meet all of my expectations. I had to stop running mid-way through my pregnancy due to pelvic pain, and I gained way more weight than I wanted (maybe 35-50 lbs.). Even still, I loved the journey I was on.
Around 2 weeks postpartum, I had already lost approximately 20 – 25 pounds. In that moment, I was thankful I stopped obsessing about the scale. The doctors had wanted me to only gain 15 pounds, yet the baby and all the fluid that came with her weighed closer to 25 pounds.
I learned that every woman handles pregnancy different. I've had some friends who maintained running through their entire pregnancy, and that is outstanding. That was my goal, but I had to set my pride aside and realize that taking care of myself was more important. Pelvic pain sucked!
I’ve also had friends who ate worse than I and gained much less, and you know what? Our bodies are different!
Oh, the irony that pregnancy was probably the only time in which my self-worth was at an all-time high.
If only it stayed that way. I knew that the first year of postpartum would be tough; I just wasn’t prepared for how tough.
I don’t think anything can prepare you for the struggles you will encounter.
Five Reminders For Pregnancy
Don’t stress over your weight – I believe that we should take care of our bodies, especially during pregnancy, but I don't necessarily agree that the scale is the best measure. Instead of focusing on the scale, focus on your diet. I could have probably eaten a lot less cereal and a lot more veggies.
Every pregnancy is different – As I mentioned above, every pregnancy and every woman is different. What your body goes through is unique to you. Just because someone on Facebook is running marathons while 7 months pregnant doesn’t mean she is better than you.
Be active, but listen to your body – There is a difference between being lazy and listening to your body. Having gone through "getting back into shape," I wish I would have been more active. I could have biked instead of running. Ultimately, listen to your body and do your best to keep it moving.
Attitude matters – I attribute my self-worth during this pregnancy to God. I prayed for a healthy and joyful pregnancy. I wanted to love myself and my body. I went in ready to take down anyone or anything that tried to make me feel bad (like that stupid scale). I embraced the differences and accepted the journey I was on.
Find your community – Pregnancy is a scary and exciting time. You don't have to go through it alone. Find a community beyond your husband that can help you during the difficult parts. Ideally someone who can remind you of your goals to eat healthily and stay active, and is going through pregnancy as well. Remember, we were designed to need relationships and friendships.