I think I am feeling you there more. I hope you have enough room in there. Today I am going to write about a topic that is super, super sensitive for me, but also one that has completely defined my pregnancy, and much of my life: my weight.
Here comes the raw truth: I am obese. I think in medical terms, I am morbidly obese. This straight up SUCKS! The worst part is that I had gastric bypass in 2010 and had lost enough weight to get myself down to a medical “overweight” zone, which was a huge accomplishment. I am 5’7” and not even comfortable to state my weight at this moment. It is the borderland between obese and morbidly obese. But nonetheless, it is something that makes me feel like a failure and like I am drowning in shame (again).
Being fat doesn’t just happen. There are medical reasons why it may happen more easily for some people. In my case there are a few. I had only recently been diagnosed as having PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). This combined with being Hypothyroid makes packing on the pounds very easy, and getting them off even harder. The thing is that, at times in the past, I would work out like a maniac and play a lot of tennis, so I would trim up and look strong. I have never been tiny, but at my best I was was fit. I come from strong, big-boned, athletic Germans. Unless I am tapping into that strength training, I can diet and get dizzy on a treadmill with only minimal results. Yet, here I am going on months and months of being sedentary. This is a necessity for now, but I have allowed myself that indulgence for far too long. Staying at home and being cozy is just much easier than hitting the gym. Eating yummy carbs is so much more appealing than trying to cook healthy. Your dad and I have not challenged ourselves to be healthy, so we are both paying the price for that which our waistlines show. Your dad has the ability to melt it way quicker than me and I am certain he will now that his job has a fancy, new fitness center open for business. I will go there too, …eventually. Right now I can’t combat the fat, as my only mission is to get you into the world. But, once you are here, I need to get on track with the health as I can’t be a good mom to you if I am a mess.
But more than being a mess, being a fat and old pregnant lady is simply hard. Let me start with the obvious: the belly. I have not done any week by week bump photos. My belly does not look pregnant. I still have a “dent” at my belly button that looks like a waist. This is called a “B” belly. Normal pregnant bellies look more like a “D”. According to what I have read, the top of the uterus should be about 1 1/2” above my belly button by now. This means all of my intestines are pushed up above that area. So right now, from top down, I am squishy, then indented, then a little hard, then a little flabby. I simply just look very overweight. I constantly worry that you don’t have any room in there and that I am somehow crushing or suffocating you. Again, with looking at other women’s stories out there, I am not crazy heavy and plenty of very obese women have had this “B” belly and gone on to deliver normal babies. Maybe I will be so lucky in the end and just not look pregnant on the way to that goal. I have also started to have really bad back pain. I am sure that it is the extra weight. I had the back pain from the injection reactions this past summer. It is not as bad as that was, but it is still making it hard for me to sleep. I feel the pain more as I attempt to move. I also have some pretty sore legs too. It seems if I take it easy and pound water like crazy, that it isn’t as bad. The water also had helped the round ligament pain that I have started to experience too. Man, that is scary when it hits. Feels like I being knifed in my side. This is all normal, so I haven’t called the doctor about it. I see the doc one week from today. We have gestational diabetes screening, fetal echo, and 24 week OB appointment. I am just hoping that everything is ok at that appointment.
So far I have been graced that no medical professional has made me feel like some sort of flop for being overweight. I think that my age and health issues have raised more red flags than the weight. I have read of overweight women who were shamed and mortified by health professionals because of their weight. I am just past halfway with this pregnancy, so maybe that could still happen. I hope it doesn’t. It is hard enough combating the negativity that I allow myself to hear in my own head. But the fact is that being overweight increases my chances of having complications. I worry about those threats but I just pray and pray hard that you will okay despite the odds.
I just received some clothes that I ordered in much larger sizes. I want to feel like there is nothing pressing down on you. I want to give you as much room as possible, even though you have to compete against my weight to do your twists and turns. When I don’t feel much movement I am convinced you are pinned in somewhere. I also hope and pray that my being overweight doesn’t mean that you will be overweight. I was a chubby kid and called “thunder thighs” as a 2nd grader…pretty tough trying to fit in and be accepted when flabby thighs make you the target of kids’ jests. And the jests never stopped. I can remember taking a break between lessons on a hot summer day. I was sitting on a blanket in the shad by a busy road. A car drove by and a bunch of boys “mooooed” at me. There was another time when I was driving home from seeing a friend. As I was enjoying singing along to a song a car of twenty-something year-old guys honked and when I looked they yelled, “you’re a fat moose!” I was just driving along and had that happen, it ruined my night. There have been many other hurtful moments, and there is just no stopping the pain when people try to shame you. It is like they don’t believe you look in the mirror each day and do that to yourself anyway. So, being heavy has had those awful experiences, and until I can get back to something almost 100 pounds less, I doubt that the scrutiny and bullying will stop. It is just this mean culture that we are in. After all, our soon-to-be president is someone who wouldn’t hesitate to call me a moose and assume I can’t make a success of my life because I am overweight. His culture of hateful judgement and womanizing terrifies me. I have never witnessed a public figure who throws around judgmental adjectives more than this guy. The fact that he can be at this pinnacle of power despite his cruel ways may open the door for other people to toss social etiquette aside and be more openly mean too (as has already happened). Enough on that….it is what it is.
As far as where I am now, I’m not back at my heaviest. I’d like to think I am a ways off from that, but I am certainly heavy. I am wearing 2X maternity clothes and bought a 3X winter coat just to make sure it isn’t tight. There is plenty of room in it, so I feel like I can get an ever bigger belly without it ever becoming snug. I don’t have high blood pressure. So far I am not showing signs of gestational diabetes or preeclampsia – and I am hoping it stays that way. Other than the aches and pains I already described, I was way worse off with all of the fertility meds. I feel puffy quite often. Like right now my face feels puffy. I have not kept up with my hair. I usually do blonde highlights. Right now, I am doing no color treatments, so I am my natural mouse-brown with little flecks of gray. I am growing my bangs out and that has me all in-between looking too. My skin is crazy dry and itchy too. I flake all the time no matter how much I moisturize. My feet are disgusting…the hypothyroid causes cracked heels. My feet could be the poster for hypothyroid cracked heels. The husband is forever grossed out by them (as anyone would be they are that bad). I have tried all kinds of things for them and so little does anything to help. I am just trying so hard to feel okay about how I look, but there are so many things that I am struggling with and I just want to get back to a place where I think I am pretty again. Your dad has been sweet. He says that I am cute and reassures me that I’m fine. He is being nice because he loves me. I know though that I am a far cry from the pretty bride I was a year and a half ago.
So being pregnant is not what the magazines and commercials made me look forward to. Having the limitations due to the modified bedrest keeps me isolated, so I am relaxed but lonely. Being obese means that I don’t have a baby bump to show off. The pregnancy weight simply makes me look ever bigger, not pregnant, just bigger. My body is a mess and my emotions are blue because I don’t feel pretty. I just feel gross, ashamed, and like I could be squishing you. Combine that with my daily dose of nervousness that something is wrong for all of the million other reasons something could be wrong and I am in the middle of a mental storm of self-induced worry. The flip side of that is how I can still be positive. That has not always been the case.
Part of my writing about these worries and frustrations is to work through them and, in doing so, to take away the power they have over me. There are so many things that I am happy about too. When I allow myself to get swallowed up by the blues I miss out on the sunshine in my life. My sunshine is always there and very warm. I have your dad, and he loves me very much. I have my parents and your dad’s parents who are incredibly supportive and kind. I have cats that snuggle me. I have a house that is safe and warm. And my list goes on and on. I know that many other people who struggle with weight feel utterly alone. Body shaming is an easy way for the target of people’s attacks to quickly slip into despair. I know that; I’ve been there. The holidays can be extra hard for anyone struggling with whatever demons haunt them. So even though I know I am dealing with my body image issues, I can still be okay. I really hope that I feel your movement a little more. It is so reassuring. Please be healthy and okay in there kiddo. I am always hoping that my body can hold out through this pregnancy to get you here safe and sound. Four days until Christmas, “Four”!