Wednesday, 7 March 2012

It’s The Weight Of Love So Gentle In Your Arms

I gained 43 pounds during my pregnancy. I did not need to gain 43 pounds during my pregnancy. I did not start off grossly underweight. I was not carrying multiples. I just gained weight. A lot of weight.

In hindsight, my postpartum depression was not entirely postpartum. Things started to go downhill somewhere around my 34th week of pregnancy but at the time I attributed it to being huge and tired and achy and having a stressful work situation and moving to a new city (and, and, and.) I am not someone who loses weight when feeling blue. I am an emotional eater. I eat my feelings in the form of baked goods and sour candy.

I gained eight pounds in my last week of pregnancy. Yes, Grady was five days late. Yes, it was late July and I was retaining a lot of water. But still. Eight pounds in one week. At the time I didn't care because as I was standing on the scale hearing the nurse tell me my total weight gain for the week, I was actually in labour and had more important things on my mind. But thinking back on it now, I feel a bit icky. Eight pounds is a good-sized baby. Eight pounds is more than what my niece weighed at birth. I put that on my body in one week.

I spent my teen years and a good portion of my twenties hating my body. It's only been recently, as I've entered my late twenties, that I've been able to appreciate my body for what it is. That's not to say that my body issues magically disappeared. It will always bother me that my lower half is wider than my upper half. I will probably always appreciate my height while hating my long torso. But I managed to overlook the flaws and focus on the good. Until I got pregnant. No, until I gave birth. Pregnancy gave me curves and made me feel voluptuous and supple. My postpartum body made me weep.

A week after Grady was born, I was changing my clothes and Shawn said to me, "babe! You look three months pregnant!" in a congratulatory tone. As the tears started to flow, he quickly tried to fix the damage by saying, "no, it's a good thing! A few days ago you looked six months pregnant!" (And then I killed him. I am writing this from jail.) The thing was, I did look three months pregnant. And that was okay! I had just given birth! But I didn't feel okay. I felt huge and jiggly and more insecure about my body than I had ever felt before. I didn't know what to expect from my postpartum body. I still don't know what to expect from my postpartum body.

I hit my pre-pregnancy weight about six months after Grady was born. I had been hovering about five pounds above it for a few months thanks to no effort on my part (I'm not trying to be all pro-breastfeeding here but seriously, it melted away the pounds) so when I decided to cut back on sweets, it was a fairly quick and easy slide back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Which was great. Awesome! Cause for celebration! But also a little depressing. Because even though the scale told me one thing, the reality of my body is an entirely different story. I am jiggly in places where I never jiggled before. My abs are pretty  much non-existent. My once perky butt is now flat and saggy. I'm a mess is what I'm saying.

I've been participating in Jennie's Biggest Blogging Loser since January. I have been eating salads and cooking more and trying to avoid sugar and processed foods. I have gone to yoga once a week - every week - since October. I feel like I'm making the right choices. But it's not enough. I want to be proud of my body. I want to feel physically strong. I want to feel healthy. But ... I also want to wear a bikini this summer. And I kind of hate myself for that. I hate that vanity is playing any part in my attempt at a new, healthy lifestyle.

This is my long-winded and twisty way of asking how you approach your weight / health. Are you motivated by your appearance or something deeper? Have you ever struggled with a significant change to your body? How do I work to improve myself without feeling like my current state isn't enough?


  1. I'm motivated by eating foods that make my body happy. I stopped eating foods with gluten, cut my dairy intake, limited red meat, upped my veggie intake, and am eating absolutely no processed foods. It wasn't about losing weight, it was about feeling good. I have so much more energy, and yes I have lost a few pounds, but overall my body is working more efficiently because of what I feed it. As long as your body feels happy, you will too.

  2. Hello! Well, seeing as I'm a bit of a freak when it comes to working out (ahem, no kids, and i've just signed up for the Tough mudder, yes, I have issues...) the things that my friends with kids did (who were uber upset with kidling weight) were simple things - taking more stairs instead of the elevator. Taking the stairs EVERY time to feed baby (one person had stairs, this obviously won't help for you, but giving examples). Finding workouts online (i'm a fan of though it can be hardcore) which are 12 to 15 min workouts that you can pound out pretty quick. they hurt, but they work.
    Stroller fit, aqua fit with baby.
    Again, this is coming from a non-kidling-based person, but I have seen the transformations in my friends. Unreal for some of them. The basis was for sure the food, but for the tightening, all those things worked and do work.

  3. I exercise and eat well and all that shit, but one of the best things that happened to me in terms of accepting my post-baby body was...forgetting what my pre-baby body was like. I didn't actively try to forget, but one day I realized I couldn't actually remember where everything had been pre-baby, and it was awesome. I could stop comparing my post-baby body to my pre-baby body because I COULDN'T REMEMBER my pre-baby body. What I have now is the new normal, and hey, it created life. Cool.

  4. What a wonderfully raw and insightful look into your body and the effects of pregnancy. When I got pregnant, I was a good 10 pounds heavier than where I wanted to be. I gained 20 pounds (no cheers here, I also gave birth to a 31-weeker). And 16 months later, I still hover at the same weight (in other words, 30 pounds over where I'd like to be). I don't think I ever took the time to truly internalize how much I hate where my body is. I certainly don't like it. But, I LOVE motherhood and wouldn't trade this old, rusty, jiggly, saggy body for a better body without a wonderful child. Not in a million years. So, I slowly take steps in the right direction, without losing focus on what really matters: my family.

  5. i am motivated SOLELY by my appearance. i get upset when my stomach gets (more) squishy (than it already is) and i fret about how i will look in a bathing suit on x vacation (especially next to chris's friends' girlfriends, who are all younger and skinnier and prettier AND AND AND). sure, i prefer eating healthy over eating crap every day, but when it comes to motivation to work out / make a change, it's always, and only, because i want to look better in my clothes (or lack thereof).

  6. I remember hearing these things about pregnancy weight, all of which helped:

    1. Expect to look 5 months pregnant when leaving the hospital.

    2. Nine months on, nine months off. (Not as in everyone is the same, but more to expect it to take a lot longer than I might have guessed.)

    3. Things aren't ever QUITE the same.

    One thing that helps me is realizing my body would be taking a dive even if I hadn't had kids. Maybe not as early, maybe not in the same ways, but it WOULD go downhill.

  7. Oh, hunny bunny. Pregnancy alters your body forever and it super sucks and is rather hard to come to terms with. I would say for me the only good thing about the C-section meds and PPD was that I was so out of my mind and hysterical over so many things that weren't my size or weight that it took me a while to focus on those. I hate that I will never have the kick-ass abs I had before J. My boobs got smaller and saggier, and now that I'm preg again they're not huge, just back to the way they were pre-J. I used to like them. But once I felt good enough to start working out hard, muscles came back (not my flat abs, seriously - those are long gone) and I felt pretty good about how I looked. But I would say that took about a year post-birth. Hang in there. You are doing all good things.

  8. The scale says I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight but my body looks completely different than it did before. Everything's softer and just kind of shifted. Like you, I want to be in a bikini this summer. I don't want to have to pull out the control top one-piece just yet. That's definitely my motivator, 100%. I started working out six weeks after Eli was born and my milk supply seemed to get lower for a day or two and of course I cried and bawled, not because I was worried about feeding my baby enough but because I was worried my precious workouts would have to be dialed back. What a great motherly thing to say, right? Things evened out after a few days of getting used to exercise and realizing I needed to eat more and drink more water. I'm still pretty embarrassed to be motivated by such a selfish goal as being able to wear a two-piece, but I just don't feel like myself in this new, saggy body.

  9. I've never been preggo, so I can't comment on that part. But just like every woman, I'm struggling between wanting to be healthy and be the best me I can be and learning to accept my body as the beautiful body that it is. And it's fucking hard, physically and emotionally.

    If you're interested, I talked about it in more detail here:

  10. I don't have a kid (as you well know), but I have struggled with my weight (as I'm pretty sure many women have). However I've never ever had a flat stomach with abs and never expect to. I'm totally ok with that. As I am now, I have jiggly bits, and again totally ok with it.

    Honestly? After not being able to eat A LOT of foods because of the gallbladder problems I had last year and losing a lot of weight because of that, I'm just happy I can now eat most of the things I love again. I have to watch it because my insides are not quite the same with the missing organ, BUT I still get to eat a hell of a lot than I did just a few months back.

    All I can say is find what's good for you, but try to accept that nothing will ever be perfect and our bodies change over the course of time.

  11. Interestingly enough - I'm currently pregnant, and starting to show. And the other day I was at my mom's house, asking her if a particular outfit was flattering.

    And I started laughing/fake crying because I didn't want to be THAT girl who was worried about her body when she was pregnant.

    BUT! HERE I AM. I've been blessed with a pretty good metabolism, so I never had to put much effort into staying at a healthy weight (physically fit is a different kettle of fish). And I'm realizing I took it for granted.

  12. Great post. I've had this starred in my reader for a few days now so I could comment.

    While I obviously have no experience with childbirth or having a post-child body I do have experience with being self-conscious about your body. I spent my entire life almost hating my body. Since I started training for races and taking on more physical challenges I've had a better respect and love for my body than ever before.

    I know you're a working mom and time is tight but if you can sign up for a 5K, or a 30-day yoga challenge or anything that requires you to push your body and achieve a goal I think you'll gain a totally different perspective and appreciation for it.

    Also? Give it time. It's taken me 4 years to get to where I am today with intuitive eating and feeling good about myself 90% of the time.

  13. I had my baby boy in Aug 2010. Unlucky/lucky for me I was overweight to begin with so adding exercise and eating better made a huge difference and I am 30 less than what I was when I got pregnant. Point is...I'm still not happy, because things jiggle. But I am trying my hardest to be proud of my body even though I don't like all of it. It's a process I'm guessing. I remind myself that I created a human, lol. This body is amazing and all I can do it take care of it. Everyone has something they don't like...I'm not focusing on their jiggly parts so I hope they aren't focusing on mine, lol.