Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Pregnancy and Body Image

I've been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now, but I haven't been quite sure how to begin.  So, I guess I'll just start at the beginning...

I've struggled with my weight and body image my entire life.  I guess that up until middle school I would have been considered "average", but once high school hit I spun out of control.  I gained and gained weight and although I hated the way I looked and felt, I never really did much about it.  Eating calmed me.  Food has always been a lifelong companion.  After college I hit my highest weight ever and finally decided that I couldn't stand to hate my body any longer.  I went on an extremely restrictive diet and started an obsessive exercise routine.  Nothing about the way I lost weight was involved laxatives, starving myself for days on end, and using just about every dieting "trick" out there.  Looking back, it's evident to me that I was developing an eating disorder, but I was finally losing weight for the first time in my life and that felt more important to me than my health.  I lost 75 pounds in about 9 months and for the first time I didn't hate what I saw in the mirror.  I became obsessed with shopping and trying on clothes just to see if I could fit into smaller and smaller sizes.  A little while after getting down to my lowest weight ever, the relationship I was in at the time ended and I found myself living alone again.  I got a second job at a restaurant to be able to afford living on my own and the pounds slowly started to creep back on. A few years went by and at that point I was right in between my highest and lowest weights, hating my body but not wanting to do anything drastic again to change it.

I met my husband right around that time.  Thankfully, he has always made me feel beautiful and has loved my body just as it is.  Together we both gained and lost weight several times over the years.  In the year before we got pregnant, I put on close to twenty pounds!  I really think it was a combination of the fertility drugs and just not taking care of myself.  The fertility treatments stressed me out and depressed me, and I completely stopped exercising or watching what I ate over that year.  The day we got pregnant I was only thirteen pounds below my highest weight ever.  Scary!!  I really, really disliked my body at that time and worried that pregnancy was only going to make things that much worse.  But, we were having a baby, and the joy I felt because of that made everything else seem so much better.

Fast forward to now.  I've been incredibly lucky to have not gained any weight yet this entire pregnancy.  I think so much of this has to do with the fact that I was very overweight to begin with.  My doctor always tells me that baby will take what baby needs, and so far she has done just that.  The absolute craziest part of this pregnancy to me though is how I feel about my body now.  I've spent my whole life hating how I look... analyzing and criticizing every roll and dimple.  Now my body has a different purpose though.  It's not just about how I look anymore, I'm GROWING another human being inside of me.  It is the most amazing thing I'll ever do in my life.  I've never loved my body more, not for how it looks but for what it can DO.  I don't hate what I see in the mirror anymore...not to say that after giving birth I won't feel differently!  I don't even mind my stretch marks or my cellulite.  I actually like the way I look in my maternity clothes and I feel so proud of my belly.  It's a very strange feeling to have when I've spent my whole life trying to hide in my clothes and feeling uncomfortable in my skin.  Feeling Abby move inside of me is the best thing I've ever felt. Pregnancy isn't very comfortable, and I certainly didn't enjoy it much in the first two trimesters when I was in pain and sick so often, but I am LOVING being pregnant right now.  I'm sad that it will be over soon!  I really can't wait to meet our baby though.  I can't wait to be a family and see my husband as a dad.  I can't wait to be a mom.  I can't wait to see who Abby looks like and what personality traits she gets from me and Dave.  But a small part of me wishes that I could stay pregnant!  And I'm already looking forward to getting pregnant again (although if I can order up a pregnancy without morning sickness that would be amazing!).  What a different tune I'm singing from a few months ago!  I guess hormones will do that to a girl :)  Anyway, I wanted to make sure that I write this post, more for my own sake than anyone else's.  Later, after I've given birth and I'm not feeling so great about my body again, I can look back at this post and remember that it's not just about how I look.  I can remember how grateful I feel right now to be able to grow this baby inside of me and know that every stretch mark and bit of extra skin was for the greatest reason on earth!

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