There was a different nurse on duty during my last baby check up. I didn’t even notice until my name was called out and I was walking towards the scale. “Wait… where’s my nurse friend who knows not to tell me the number? Is she on her lunch break? I can wait….” I thought. I took my shoes off and got on the scale. I closed my eyes like I do every time. The nurse said it loud and clear for me to hear: “Alright… One hundred and fifty five pounds”. I stepped off the scale.
I couldn’t quite label the feeling I was having shortly after that. I hadn’t known my weight for over a year. I never weigh myself anymore and if I have a doctors appointment I always ask them not to tell me. This mainly coming from the fact that in the past, a “bad” day on the scale would bring nothing but shame.
And after the shame always came the planning. The obsessing. The wasting time and energy on stupid thoughts that nobody should have about themselves. “Ok you weighed 120 pounds, what’s the plan to get back to 115? No carbs for a week…hmmm that means no wine. What about no carbs and wine is allowed only if you skip a snack? What about a juice fast for a week? No.. we have dinner plans with friends so that won’t work.. ugh why do we have to have such a booked calendar! Remember you must control yourself at that dinner, don’t overeat like you always do. Visiting the bathroom after is not an option anymore. Ok that dinner can be like your cheat day but the rest of the days all clean eating and portion control. I wonder if John can see the extra weight, I was so much thinner when he met me. I wonder if our friends can tell. My pants are tighter. My face is so round…” It went on and on. SO EXHAUSTING.
Negative self talk is the worst enemy. And we ALL deal with it.
This pattern was on a repeat cycle for a while. Going to a clinic where I got help definitely helped but breaking old habits is tough. I ditched the scale a while ago. I wrote mantras on post-its and put them all over the bathroom mirror. I made a vow to myself to not diet. Ever. I read every book I could find on intuitive eating and recovering from eating disorders. There is definitely a lot of information out there, the tough part is turning that switch off. The one that tells you that you are not good enough. Because of course, like any addiction, it’s not about the food, the weight, the booze, the excessive gum chewing, the tobacco… you name it. It’s about not feeling worthy. It’s about not knowing what to do with shame and coping with this feeling in different fucked up ways.
I slowly started to get better. To grab a slice of pizza from the box without automatically thinking how I was going to get rid of it afterwards. I naturally gained some weight which leads back to the problem of dieting. Years of restriction made food seem so appealing when it was finally “allowed”. If you can have chocolate every day, you won’t want to have chocolate every day. I never believed this until I started letting go of my dieting. Wanting to be “normal” and not have issues with food was a much stronger desire than anything so gaining some pounds while my body figured it out finally seemed worth it. Wanting a family. Wanting to enjoy the moment. Although it got better, my reflection in the mirror was still not what I wanted it to be but I tried to remember my therapist’s words when she said that the approval and acceptance of my image would be the last thing to arrive. I was tired of trying anything else so I just kept doing it. I kept not-dieting even though every time I had “bad food” my mind would start planning again. It slowly worked.
A couple of months after being “stable” I got pregnant. We found out last Christmas Day and I had been wanting nothing more. My dad always says that you’ll never be entirely ready for something, and if you wait then you’ll just be waiting forever. So although a part of me was wondering if I even was ready to be pregnant due to my eating disorder in the past, I decided to believe that the timing was just right. And I still do. New Year’s Eve was just around the corner so I made sure my resolutions included: listening to my hunger cues, trusting my body, enjoying pregnancy as much as possible, reducing negative self talk…all that good stuff.
Pregnancy has been such a learning experience for me. It’s really taught me to let go of the things I can’t control. To listen to my body in a way that I didn’t even remember how to do. To eat when I am hungry. To stop when I am full. To being ok with being bigger and constantly growing. To value my body and what it can do (there’s actually a baby in there!). To believe that my husband can love me no matter what I look like. To trust my body when it’s telling me it wants a side of fries instead of a side of greens. It’s made me feel so connected to myself and to others.
Don’t get me wrong there are still some tough days. There are days where I honestly think I am going bananas. The other day John had to stay in LA for the night due to work and I was anxious, couldn’t go to bed and I kept wondering where he was and what he was doing. Such a hormonal cuckoo. There are days where everything hurts. Days where I really don’t like how big my body has gotten. Days where I cry just by looking at our dog Charlie because I love him so much.
I’ve noticed something though… These are all normal reactions that any woman that is pregnant can have. It’s not strongly linked to my eating disorder. I don’t take hours elaborating meal plans for the week. I don’t feel consumed in negative thoughts after having “bad food”. I still have this vulnerability however it doesn’t feel like it’s controlling me anymore. It’s there. Sometimes more than others. But it’s OK.
It has been so humbling.
When I heard the nurse say that I weighed one hundred and fifty five pounds I had a reaction that I hadn’t had in a really long time. The number didn’t sink in. My stomach didn’t feel hollow. I was not ashamed. I have never weighed that much in my life and ironically I felt lighter than ever at the sound of my weight. I’ve gained about 25 pounds since I got pregnant. Doctor says baby is healthy. Doctor says mom is healthy. That’s all I need to know for now. No comparing to other pregnant girls (I almost always succeed at this), no obsessing on how to loose all this baby weight after she comes. I can only hope that I can continue to feel this synced with my body after her birth. And for some reason I know that everything will be fine this time.