This is another very personal post. And I'm not writing this to get sympathy, I have been thinking a lot about this ever since I found out I was pregnant. There are so many women who have spent countless hours getting healthy and losing weight, then find out they are pregnant. Depending on how you feel about gaining weight, even for pregnancy, this has the potential to break you all over again.
Growing up I was very active, I played so many sports and had parents who made sure I had healthy meals. When I knew I didn't want to play sports in college, I decided to stop playing in high school as well. As anyone knows, if you continue to eat the same way you did while you were physically active, you're going to gain weight. Because not only did I stop playing sports, I basically completely stopped exercising all together. Maybe I was burned out from years of sports, maybe I was being rebellious and using anything I could to annoy my parents. But if you've read previous posts about how I struggled with my adoption, this is all going on at the same time.
Looking back through pictures, I can slowly see the weight coming. I remember my parents trying to help me get back on track to be healthy, but I wasn't listening or caring. I always had the same response, "I am fine with the way I look, why do you want to change me?" Classic response, blame anyone else to avoid facing the real problem.
The hardest part of this post has been trying to find pictures. I remember saying I was fine, but being so embarrassed by pictures. I learned how to manipulate the camera when I was taking selfies (in true millennial form), so even in my heaviest times pictures I took myself don't show how bad it was. My face is where I see the changes. Yes, my body was growing, but my face, what people had to look at while talking to me, that is the area I am always drawn to in pictures.
These pictures are from college, when the weight really came. Those were rough years in every aspect of my life. I did end up leaving school for a semester to try and get myself back to a healthy state. While I was overweight and wanted to look better, I finally realized the real problem was: I wasn't healthy. Mentally, spiritually, or physically. That semester off, I was able to lose a little of the weight, but struggled when I came back to school.
Then, in the summer of 2016 my parents and I had a discussion about what else we could do to get me healthy. That was when we met with doctors and decided I would have weight-loss surgery. That is how serious I was about wanting to lose the weight and get healthy. I was exercising and monitoring my food intake, but still wasn't seeing results. Blood results said I was border-line on some pretty serious areas, and something had to change.
That first year after surgery was fully of adjustments. Obviously adjustments to what I could and couldn't eat, but I also had graduated college and started my first job. Surgery was in November, graduation was December, and I started my first "real world job" in January, thats how quickly things changed. I was also seeing the number on the scale getting smaller and smaller. I actually WANTED to work out, I could feel myself getting stronger, both mentally and physically. I was more confident and looking into the future was a positive thing, not something I worried about. And while I'm being open and honest about what I struggled with, I am so glad Colin and I were together pre-surgery. Because I don't know if I could fully accept being with someone who hadn't seen where I came from and what I struggled with. Colin has continuously supported, encouraged, and loved me, no matter what. That means more to me than I can ever describe.
I know not everyone has the same story as me, which is what I love about how God created us. We each have our own struggles and victories. But I'm willing to bet most of us struggle with our weight. So there is some common ground in our stories.
After one year post-surgery, I was medically cleared to get pregnant. While it wasn't in our plans to happen as soon as it did, God's plan is better than ours. It had only been one year, so I hadn't been "my new self" for very long. While I was over-the-moon about having a little one, in the back of my mind all I could think about was gaining the weight back.
Yes, the weight was going to be for a healthy and understandable reason. You're supposed to gain weight while pregnant! You're creating and carrying a little miracle!! That doesn't make it any easier to cope with. Especially if you've been struggling for years and finally get to where you wanted.
So many women are insecure during pregnancy, and it's not just about the weight gain. According to Babygaga, these are the 15 Things Pregnant Women Are Insecure About. I have added my own options about each insecurity.
15. Gaining Weight
Well, you already know how I feel about this insecurity. It is at the top of my personal list.
This didn't happen for me till later on in pregnancy, and it wasn't as bad as it was when I was younger. I can totally see how this would be an insecurity though. With all the other changes going on, adding another physical change can be tough. My advice would be do your part to keep it at bay, but know it is only a phase.
13. The Belly Bump
Uh, you're pregnant. You're going to have a belly bump. I struggle with comparing mine to others, which is ridiculous. Because just like each pregnancy is different, each woman is different, and each baby is different. Some have bigger bumps than others, some take 20+ weeks to really start showing.
12. Stretch Marks
Again, those are probably going to happen. Remember that you're carrying and creating a wonderful miracle. You're body is changing in SO many ways, and depending on how fast your bump appears stretch marks will follow. I have heard there are "homemade remedies" to keep them at bay, but I haven't seem anything that says they are 100% avoidable.
11. Skin Color Changes
This hasn't happened to me, yet. I have heard it's normal...
10. Cankles, Other Swelling
OH the swelling! Get you a husband/friend/sister/friend/ANYONE who will rub your feet! Colin is AMAZING at this! I am so lucky!
9. Dry Hair
When you have a girl, the wives tale is "she steals your beauty." And if you have a boy, "you never looked better." I just went to get my hair done, and my hairdresser was raving about how think my hair has gotten!
No avoiding. It happens! And it gets worse when you gotta pee! Rock it girl! It's your pregnancy swag!!
7. Falling Off The Wagon
There are those times where it will seem like you can't do anything right. Girl, give yourself a break! No one is perfect and sometimes we need that extra piece of chocolate cake (or third ding-dong...). Just make sure you aren't continuously falling off the wagon. You have to keep yourself in check, but also give yourself grace.
6. Work Performance
I think this depends on where you work, what you're job is, and how pregnancy is making you feel. I know that I slacked off during the first trimester, and being sick all the time was hard to get past. Keep an open line of communication with your boss and try to get some sleep when you can!!
5. The Baby Dad
I have been very shy around Colin since baby has grown. The bigger the bump, the more insecure I am around him. I think that just because I think I look horrid, he is thinking the same. When that is totally not true. He has been more than willing to throw a compliment out when he sees me struggling, or even better, when I am just walking by. baby daddy's have a way of making their baby mama feel better, especially when they are intone to their needs.
4. Looking Haggard
If you have figured out a way around this one, let me know. third trimester, all I want is for baby to be out. I have this idea that I'll actually be able to get a good nights sleep once she's here, but I have been told that won't happen. SO let me know if you have figured out a way to look good while sleep deprived!
3. Not Being Happy Enough
Oh the mood swings! They happen so fast! I have gone from about to cry from "sadness" to laughing-crying to angry to sleepy, all within about 5 minutes. Lately I have been apologizing more and more about my attitude towards things, and unfortunately he is getting the raw end of the deal since he is who I am around most of the time. Even if it's over something I have blown up in my head, I still am ridiculously moody about it.
2. Magazine Covers
Oh girl! Look away!! Don't look at those covers or at the celebrities! Photoshop is THE worst and those pictures are not real. You are you. And you are rocking this pregnancy! I don't look at magazine covers as much as I look at Instagram, but they are both just as crippling. I always remind myself that I am not them and they are not me. God created us all different, and we are each perfect in our own ways.
You've heard this a million times, but every pregnancy is different. You may have had a perfectly healthy pregnancy in the past, and this time something goes wrong with the next. Again, if you are doing the best you can, that's all you can do. You can't listen to each and every persons opinion or suggestion, that's just not feasible. What worked for them might not work for you and your baby. But from what I hear, this doesn't go away after pregnancy. People have good intentions, but you know your baby better than them, even if you don't always feel like it.
How have I been handling the weight gain? Seeing myself getting bigger?
I'm still following the doctor's recommendations on protein and vitamin intake, on top of recommendations from my OB. At 30 weeks pregnant, I had gained 16 pounds. While I had lost much more than that, it has still been hard to see that number get higher. I am continuously reminding myself that I am healthy, the doctor's are impressed with my blood pressure and weight gain. They aren't concerned, and so I shouldn't be either.
At this point in the pregnancy, I'm tired a lot, but I am making myself get up and exercise. Part of the reason for the weight-loss was to able to be active and healthy with my children. I want to establish good habits, especially while baby is young. Working to establish these habits is going to beneficial in the long run, even if I don't always feel like it.
Overall, this pregnancy has taught me a lot. I was sick the first 17 weeks with the wrongly named "morning" sickness. Besides normal side effects (tired, back aches, etc.), this has been a relatively easy pregnancy physically. Where I have struggled is mentally. We can be our biggest haters, and I’ve had to reassure myself daily that what I think isn’t always true. Colin is and always has been supportive and encouraging. He’s never said anything that agrees with what I think to myself. In fact, he says the complete opposite, even without me saying anything aloud.
And you know who else says the same things? Who else is encouraging and supportive? God.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christs power may rest on me. That is why, for Christs sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. - 1 Peter 5:7
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. - Psalm 139:13-14
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. - Philippians 4:13
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. - Colossians 3:1-2
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. - Psalm 55:22
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. - Isaiah 40:31
Jesus lover, wife, momma, teacher, and hopeful writer.