Once upon a time, in a land not so terribly far away, there was a young woman receiving infertility treatments and fattening up like a prize hog at a county fair. It was a trying time…there were lots of tears and heartache, a general disinterest in exercise or eating well, and of course a healthy dosing of fertility drugs helping the poundage along.
So, I am not the thinnest person in the world, but I’m not the fattest either. I guess you could call me fairly average, with a pant size that has varied at any given point in my life from a size 6 to a size 10. Right before conceiving Bean, I was at one of my heaviest points, in great part because of the fertility drugs, and after becoming pregnant I ballooned with water and couldn’t even fit my rings on my fingers after my 10th or 11th week. As if that wasn’t enough, my skin broke out in huge, painful pimples, normally reserved for teens going through adolescence and men taking anabolic steroids. I felt hideous, and desperate to start showing, so at least I could make it clear that I was in fact pregnant.
I think my body issues started way before all this, having been pudgy child, and a pudgier early adolescent. I whittled my body down drastically between the ages of 12 and 13, but the mental scarring of hours and hours of bullying and peer abuse have never faded. It makes gaining weight a bit of a traumatic experience for me, and to blow up so much, so quickly, seemed like salt mixed into my oozing infertility wound. Several friends of mine were also pregnant, but of course they “glowed” with pregnancy, showing only in their tummy and curvacious hips and breasts. They all wore their wedding rings and engagement rings right up till their delivery dates, and each swore their skin to be the clearest it had ever been.
Now, with baby number 2, it is all happening again. I had lost all my baby weight, and then another 10 lbs on top of that, and was feeling pretty fit and fabulous. After getting pregnant, I started gaining and gaining like mad, and I haven’t been able to stop. My first trimester was again full of bloat and nausea induced carb loading, and now, I just seem to be hungry all the time. I eat a full meal, and two hours later my stomach is growling. I go to bed, and get up again at midnight, with starved tigers running wild in my gut. I’m trying to exercise every day, but even that isn’t keeping the poundage at bay. The scale is my enemy, and so is the soft layer of fat around what should just be an adorable, hard baby bump.
And the acne, oh the acne. It hurts, it leaves scarring and red blotchy areas of skin, it looks awful, it sucks. I am glowing, it’s true, but you have to look hard to see it under the layer of zits and reddish-brown scars. I repeat, it sucks. I want to hide my face under make up all the time, and never let anyone see me otherwise (and I am someone who generally avoids wearing makeup unless going someplace nice).
My body image story…I guess you could say I’m not in a great place. My body doesn’t beautify with pregnancy it uglifies, swells, and expands. Even my bump – similar to the way I carried with Bean – is very narrow and up and down across my midsection, making it less distinctive and shapely in that sweet round bump way that most women show. I’m not a tall person, and my midsection isn’t long, and none of this helps. I have a thick bone structure with wide but shapely legs that I’m normally proud of, but right now they just look like swollen tree trunks. It is hard to feel beautiful or sexy. It’s hard to imagine my husband still finds me attractive (though he swears he does). It’s hard to look at photos of myself.
I guess I just have to hope that losing the weight comes as easily this time as it did the last time. So much weight came off initially in baby and water (and being sick probably helped too). I was down 20 lbs in the first month and half post baby, and the rest didn’t take long after that. I managed to find my way back to the gym eventually (not sure how that will happen with two, but somehow I will make it happen), and then it wasn’t just the weight coming off, but strength coming back.
The final bit was weaning. My body changed forever with Bean and with breastfeeding — I grew half a shoe size on feet I was already self conscious about (and I still can’t fit into my old shoes), and my rib cage (another place of worry for me) expanded by almost an inch (more while still pregnant). Weaning seemed to bring some bit of normalcy back to my body, though it dwindled my poor breasts down smaller and less full than they’d been before conceiving (again…don’t most women stay a little bigger than before?)! Ah well…one day I will have my body back I suppose.