One writer, who was 40 pounds overweight during college, gets real about how she handled gaining the weight back during her pregnancy
It's such a vivid memory, and one I'm not proud to admit. Within days of finding out I was pregnant, my first thought was, "Please be healthy," but immediately my second thought—without even a pause—was, "I don't want to get fat." Pumped with pregnancy hormones and already overly emotional, I started sobbing and confessed this to my husband, who hugged me and replied, "Well, you will." I almost bit his head off for such an insensitive comment. But he continued: "Your belly's gonna grow, and your boobs, and you might get cankles, but I'll love you and your body even more because you're growing our baby," and he hugged me tight until I stopped crying. Then he bent down, kissed my belly, and whispered, "Don't make Mommy too fat, OK?" We started laughing, but still, it wasn't a joke to me; I was determined to be adorably pregnant.
You see, I had already done the fat phase. In college I gained 40 pounds, and because it took me so long to lose the weight, I had such a fear about not only getting fat, but having to go through the hard work of losing the weight again. I was already eating well and exercising regularly, so I kept that up. But my four-mile runs had to come to an end at 11 weeks when I was suffering some severe round ligament pain. I panicked and worried I'd blow up, so I committed to hour-long walks and prenantal yoga classes twice a week.
It didn't take long for me to start showing. Since my belly wasn't exactly a firm six-pack to begin with and I have a short torso, my pooch started to pop by the end of the first trimester. And I was happy—I just let it all hang out because I wanted to look pregnant (and not like I had a few too many slices of pizza). I felt a newfound freedom in my round belly.
As I got further along in my pregnancy, though, I was angry at other mothers. Why didn't anyone tell me that your belly isn't the only thing that grows? OK, so yeah, my boobs were two cup sizes larger (and I was a C to begin with!), but I had extra squishiness all over; on my face, my arms, and my thighs. At seven months pregnant, I had already gained 35 pounds, even though I was exercising and eating mostly healthy. I had an aversion to salads so I went for smoothies, soups, roasted veggies with whole grains, and of course, ice cream. My hunger was so strong I was now eating four meals a day and two snacks. I knew giving my baby the nourishment it needed was the most important thing, so whenever I felt hungry, I ate.
It was really crazy, witnessing my body changing so rapidly, and I had no control over it. It was bad enough that I had to buy new, larger maternity clothes every few weeks, but then the flood of comments came. With two months to go, I heard, "You're huge! Are you having twins?" and "You must be due any day now." One relative was constantly asking how much weight I'd gained (which was over 45 pounds by the end, thank you very much). And from my husband's mom, I got, "At first, I thought you were having a boy because your belly got so huge, but now I see you're getting fat all over, so I think it's a girl." Yep. You just have to smile and hold your tongue because being the crazy-emotional screaming pregnant lady is not who you want to be.
After my three-day-long labor and pushing out my baby girl with no meds, I felt a superpower I've never felt before. And although pregnancy changed my body, it more so changed how I viewed my body. Sure my boobs were now an F (WTH?) and my belly looked six months preggo when I left the hospital, but I realized that it took me 40 weeks to put on this weight, so it might take that long or longer to take it off. I worked out and ate healthy, but not because I hated my body and was determined to lose weight. My goal was now to take care of myself so I'd be able to take care of my daughter.
Life teaches you valuable lessons, and this was a big one. While I was so fearful of pregnancy making me fat, it actually helped me overcome my fear of being fat. I'm so grateful to have witnessed—twice—my body changing and growing and doing what it was made to do. I no longer see my body for its flaws, but for its amazing abilities. I'm down to my prepregnancy weight and things are definitely not proportioned as they were, but every time I hear one of my children giggle or look down to see my stretch marks, I love my body a little more.