It has been an interesting late fall – winter – early spring. I have been told that there are women who love being pregnant. I am not one of them. While both me and the baby are healthy (hooray!), I am miserable both physically and emotionally. During my first trimester I was cursed with persistent nausea and vomiting. Despite the fact that I had trouble eating and that I was vomiting on a pretty regular basis, I gained weight. 15 lbs in my first trimester. Who does that? I attributed the weight gain to lots of carbs (bread and crackers were one of the few things I could keep down) and limited exercise (its tough to run when you’re vomiting every morning). I was hopeful that the end of nausea at about 12 weeks would also mean the end of rapid weight gain. Not so much. While I was able to start running, lifting and eating “normally,” the weight continued (and continues) to pile on. At 23 weeks, I’ve gained 23 pounds, pretty much what I should gain for the entire pregnancy as an overweight woman. Not good.
The toll of the gain has been both physical and emotional. Physically its tough to carry around all this extra weight. I know being pregnant isn’t comfortable for lots of women, but in addition to weight gain in my abdomen, I’m also dealing with extra inches and pounds on my hips and thighs. Things like rolling over in bed keep getting tougher and tougher. Plus running is hard. While I’m still at it to the tune of 15 to 20 miles a week there’s a lot of extra pounding on my knees and a lot of extra baggage to simply lug around (finding shorts that fit is near impossible). The toughest part physically is probably the fact that nothing fits. Maternity clothes that I purchased at the end of my first trimester are too tight across the hips and thighs (there’s plenty of room in belly). Plus I’ve been travelling frequently for work (Tulsa, Kansas City, Louisville, Minneapolis and Philadelphia so far) and I’m at the point where I feel like I’m too fat to fly. No matter what I do the spread of my hips encroaches on the seat next to me. When I get on the plane I cross my arms and legs, try to sit as still as possible and silently apologize to the person next to me for having to sit next to a fat person. I’m waiting for the day I need to ask for a seat belt extender. I’m flying three times in the next 6 weeks and am not looking forward to more time in the air (especially when I get booked into middle seats).
Emotionally I’m a bit of a disaster. Doctors appointments cause massive anxiety. While I have a “Do Not Weigh” order in my chart, I inevitably get asked to step on the scale. I already know I’m gaining weigh too rapidly, I don’t need confirmation from the scale to add to the guilt. Its also difficult to convince the doctors that I’m not “eating for two” and that I’m making “healthy choices.” I feel horrible about myself as it is and the additional judgment in the form of medical advice only makes me feel worse. To top it off, the numbers are getting daunting. Based on my current gain, it looks like I’ll need to lose in the range of 75 lbs post-baby to get back to a “healthy” weight. Just looking at that number makes me want to cry. While I’m seeing a therapist and have worked with a RD during this pregnancy, its still incredibly hard to deal sometimes. I thought I had conquered lots of my eating disorder issues but I think an eating disorder is a little like an addiction, you’re never recovered; you’re always in recovery.
The worst part of all of this are my fears for what it will do to our daughter. I deal with issues relating to my weight every day. They weigh on my mind on a constant basis and know that my relationship to my body and to food can be downright unhealthy. I don’t want our daughter to deal with the same issues. I remember going on diets when I was 11 years old. I remember being told by a swim coach about the need to lose 5 lbs when I was 12. I remember being embarrassed by junior high school weigh ins and trying to make myself as small as possible when picking up high school soccer uniforms. I don’t want our daughter to feel the same way. I want her to love her body and everything that it is capable of; I’m just very afraid that I won’t be able to be an example she can follow.