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The True Weight of Pregnancy



The Lane Bryant of it all

I have never had a fast metabolism, and it has been a true bummer. As far back as I can remember I have struggled with both my weight and propensity to binge eat when stressed. I still jokingly say, “I am filling the hole in my heart with cake.”  It’s 50% a joke and 50% reality. I was a fairly normal kid until puberty and family issues hit (divorced parents yadda yadda yadda). Between the ages 10-14 I gained weight steadily. Guys, I loved me some cookies, and cake, and chips, and always played the sweeper in soccer because I didn’t want, no, actually I loathed running. By the time I was 14 years old I weighed 200 pounds.  The problem with being 200 pounds in middle school, besides having to shop at Lane Bryant (the LB style was not super hip in 1995) is that KIDS ARE FUCKING MONSTERS. I hated being bullied, I hated the way I looked, but the more I hated the more I fueled that hate with food. 

When was the last time Calista Flockhart was relevant?

Two months into my freshman year in High School I had enough of being the fat girl, and decided to do something drastic about it. I think I got the idea for my eating disorder from an episode of HBO’s Lifestories: Families in Crisis (so 90’s it hurts). It was the episode staring a young Calista Flockhart who was a bulimic named Mary Margaret. This character vomited in jars and stored them in her fucking closet, so I guess she made it look glamourous? I don’t know, I was 14 and apparently not super bright. For 3 solid years I food restricted, or I binged and purged (never in jars mind you). I went from 200 pounds to 125 pounds in the span of a few months. No one noticed a problem, and everyone commented on how pretty I was now that I was thin. It’s kind of bullshit, but I can’t fix society. The problem with being 125 pounds, is that for my body type it was truly not sustainable without restricting to 800-1000 calories per day. I was REALLY not happy, I was losing my hair, I was skinny but never skinny enough. After passing out at school at 16 and my mom finding diet pills in my room (like my own after school special), my family finally saw that I needed help. I started therapy, got a little better, then worse, then a little better, and then worse again. I gained a lot of weight, lost a lot of weight, gained a lot of weight, and lost a lot of weight again. It was a vicious garbage cycle that I still struggle with today.

Real Talk

I’m a bulimic. I say it in present tense, because although we rarely hear about eating disorders in adults (except for Jane Fonda, who doesn’t yet know that she is legit my soulmate) the sickness from our youth does not go away just because we are in our 30’s, and it certainly does not go away when we have kids. Like any addict you remain an addict for the rest of your life.  I don’t binge and purge anymore, but the desire to do so when I am upset lies right below the surface.  I actively have to fight this disease.

Burning a Scale in Effigy

When I got pregnant I knew that weight was going to be a focal point of my journey, but I was not prepared for how the hormone shift and constant weigh-ins would affect my psyche. I gained 35 pounds, but I was obsessed over the number on the scale in my bathroom, my husband’s bathroom (we do not share bathrooms because I need space for my products to live in peace), scales at my friends’ houses, and the scale at my doctor’s office. I tried to schedule my doctors’ appointments early in the morning just so I could get weighed before I had eaten for the day. The more stressed I was about my weight, the more I ate. It was a cycle of control and loss of control that I was familiar with, and I felt helpless at the time to stop.

Pregnancy is also a time that people love to say, “Oh my god you’re so big!” “When are you due? You look ready to pop!” “You are definitely having a girl because you are carrying so high.” SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP. PEOPLE.  By my 8th month I was staring at my stretch marks in the mirror, pulling them apart to see how long they were and wondering if they would go away; if I would lose the weight I gained; if I would ever feel good about myself again. I was supposed to feel ecstatic that I was growing a healthy baby, but I couldn’t get out of my own head.

A New Perspective

After my daughter was born I was prepared to lose about 10 pounds after delivery, but I was secretly hoping for more. When I got home from the hospital and saw I only lost 7 pounds I panicked, but was too busy with a newborn to let the panic dictate my life. Sorry panic, but I’m super busy.  It’s been 7 months since I gave birth to my princess peanut angel face, and I have only lost 15 of the 35 I gained from being pregnant; however, I am happier than I thought I would be.  I know I will lose the weight in a healthy way. I have it in me to do. Mostly, having a daughter has encouraged me to seek real treatment for myself.  The most important gift I can give my child is a healthy relationship with food.  This disease will stop with me.

If you feel like you are struggling, I invite you to visit the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).  Please know you are not alone.

-Jenna

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