In 2003 I weighed 227 pounds, at a height of 5’5″. I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, which is another story in and of itself. Over the course of the next three years, in fits and spurts, I lost 55 pounds. From January through October of 2005 is when I lost the most – when I exercised six days a week, toned my body up tightly, and learned how to run, racing in 3 5K races in July, September and October. In 2005, at my lowest weight since my teenage years (172 pounds!), I became pregnant.
I was anxious about gaining weight, because I’d spent much of my time and effort losing it. I vowed to exercise every single day of my pregnancy, to run until I couldn’t possibly run another step. I never anticipated how very tired and sore my first trimester would be. My breasts ached so much that walking made my chest throb in pain. I was exhausted all of the time, and the nausea was overwhelming. The last time I ran was on November 8th, the day before I tested positive. I tried to run a couple of times afterward, but it just didn’t work out. I walked every single day, out of necessity, as I don’t have a car and commute to work every day via train.
Over the course of the pregnancy, I gained nearly 50 pounds. Half of my weight gain was during the first trimester, when I added 25 without really trying at all – the lack of high-paced exercise plus extra food eaten so I wouldn’t feel queasy or nauseated added up, and added up quickly. My diabetes meant that I had to watch every morself of food I ate and check my blood sugar 4 times daily. I had to take oral medication daily to assist with my blood sugar maintenance, along with daily vitamins and folic acid.
Up until my sixth month of pregnancy, I didn’t feel pregnant at all. I didn’t worry about stretch marks because my belly was already littered with them from my previous weight gain, but I worried about how I would lose the weight associated with this pregnancy. I didn’t feel pregnant; I felt fat. The moment I felt my son move inside me and kick me was one of the most enchanted feelings I’ve ever experienced. And then seeing my belly slowly start to swell made me slowly change my opinion of my body from “Fat and Ugly” to “Pregnant and Beautiful.” I reveled in the swell of my body, the curves of my belly, knowing that I was giving sustenance to a life within me.
I loved being pregnant, despite the daily blood sugar pricks, despite the medication, despite the higher blood pressure toward the end of my pregnancy, despite the weekly non-stress tests during the last month. Being pregnant was the most empowering experience I’ve ever had – to know that I can contribute to the creation of a life is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.
My birth experience, while not ideal (I was induced at 38w3d because of low amniotic fluid), was also empowering as well. I labored for 21 hours, six of which was spent pushing a 15 inch head through a narrow birth canal, pushing like crazy to avoid having to undergo a c-section. I pushed harder than I’ve ever worked out before, and pushed out an 8lb, 6oz boy, 20 inches long, huge head, and perfect in every way.
Our relationship has flourished ever since. He nurses from me and as I did when he was inside, I provide him sustenance and contribute to his growth. He is growing magnificently. And even though he doesn’t know it, he has given me a huge gift – my self-esteem and understanding about my body I would have never gotten from any amount of therapy or weight loss. My stretch marks (my new ones from pregnancy!) are my daily evidence that I held a human inside me for nine months. I am proud of these track marks and wear them gladly.
I tracked my pregnancy through (almost) weekly photographs (located here).