~Number of pregnancies and births: 1 pregnancy, due march 21st 2012
It started after the winter of 2009 when I was 18, I had made some very poor choices that year, endured physically abusive relationships. I was very depressed and self loathing. Then I weighed 190, at 5’ 4” I was considered overweight. I was going through a really rough time in my life and I truly hated myself. All through 2010, I turned to food to ease the pain that I felt. I would just eat and eat and kept putting on the pounds like nobody’s business. I thought that if I made myself ugly enough no man would want me, I thought that all men were pigs and I hated them all. I had always been proud that I had no stretch marks on my stomach but that changed in 2010, big ugly red welts sprang up on my love handles and they kept growing. I also began drinking heavily to dull the pain. I slept with my boyfriend for the first time on April 28th, 2010 on his birthday and I was truly quite drunk. Before that we had just been best friends but we had always said “I love you” to each other and I had known he had a crush on me for years but I thought I was too good for him (I feel like such a bitch looking back on this, if I had just dated him 4 years ago I could have saved myself so much pain and heartbreak and abuse). I weighed the most in January of 2011 at 220 pounds, considered obese. I had stretch marks everywhere! On my arms, my sides, by my belly button, the top of my thighs, my inner thighs, the back of my calves. I hated what I saw in the mirror. But I had a strange sense of satisfaction too, that this blanket of fat was my defense mechanism, that I would never be objectified again.
I was with my boyfriend at the time and he said that he loved my body even with all the stretch marks and cottage cheese which really surprised me, I think this is because he had always liked me (even though when we met I was a small 180). I began to come to terms with my self hatred, I realized that I didn’t want to be fat my whole life and who cares if guys looked at me again because I was with one guy and didn’t care what the others thought. I was tired of being fat, I wanted to be thin. In February 2011 I developed an eating disorder; I would work out for two hours a day and eat less than 1400 calories. I would get cranky and upset if I didn’t get to work out. I remember living off protein shakes and one day I didn’t eat at all. I was happy with my boyfriend but I still hated my body, now for the extra fat and the marks. I self medicated with marijuana, living in the moment, trying to forget the past, feeling that constant hunger. I dropped weight and fast. At first I was ecstatic because I had never lost more than ten pounds in my entire life. I worked very hard, spending hours on the elliptical and drinking gallons of water a day. I lost 50 pounds by June 2011 but my goal was an 85 pound weight loss to get back to what I was in 2006. In my obsessed state I even considered a 100 pound weight loss. I loved the compliments about how thin I was looking and how much weight I had lost, I was now 170 pounds. I was so proud to boast a 50 pound weight loss by the end of May 2011. But it was never enough, never enough weight loss, never enough pot to make me truly happy. I was so unhealthy; my hair fell out in clumps. I was starting to get a receding hair line from my starvation. I loved the smallness that I felt but I hated the loose skin and the marks that still remained even though they faded to silvery scars. What I hated most was the bags on my arms, I always envied the arms of skinny girls, how small and shapely they were. I baked in the sun because it made my stretch marks seem less noticeable, I lived in the gym. When I wasn’t at the gym or at work I was getting high with my boyfriend. I still don’t know how I could have worked out and smoke a pack a day.
I had stopped taking my birth control in January because it didn’t work well, I couldn’t stand the side effects. I thought every month that I was pregnant, and honestly I don’t know how it took so long, probably the starvation mixed with all the smoking. Anyways, I found out I was pregnant on July 25th 2011 when I was 7 weeks. That very day I gave up smoking. Cold turkey and I haven’t had a cigarette since! I’m so proud of myself not just for me but for the beautiful baby girl growing inside me. I truly believe that she saved my life! My little angel, I was on such a path of self destruction but she gave me focus and purpose. I stopped starving and I stopped self medicating. For the first time in two years I was sober for an extended period of time. I felt such trepidation about what the future might hold but I also was able to see through the fog of addiction finally and confront the problems of my past. I turned to faith when the bad memories overwhelmed me. I turned to faith when the addiction taunted and gnawed at me. And I was able to overcome! Because I knew that it was not just about me anymore, it was also about the beautiful baby that was growing inside me, she needed me to be the best that I could be.
Although I dealt with some queasiness during the first trimester I only threw up once. But I began to eat like a pig. I justified it with “I’m pregnant; I can eat what I want.” Not true, in the first two trimesters I had gained 25 pounds and I was back up to 195. I was disgusted with myself. I felt like I had done all that work this year for nothing. Luckily, I had room to grow because of all the loose skin so I haven’t had any new stretch marks until recently. I am currently 31 weeks and 205 pounds. I was dismayed at this gain, I had just lost all that weight, to be right where I started and I know I was only supposed to gain 15 to 25 pounds for my entire pregnancy. I just try to eat healthfully and I am counting calories. I do get tempted into self-loathing but I have to realize that I am not fat, I am pregnant. I have to be healthy and eat well for this little baby girl I already love so much. It was not an easy pregnancy. Addiction was the glue to me and my boyfriend’s relationship and now that I’m not high all the time there is a lot more tension. The first hurdle was making sure it wasn’t an ectopic pregnancy. The second hurdle was quitting my job because I can’t work as a lifeguard while pregnant. The third hurdle was getting ripped off for a car from a girl that used to be my best friend but now is just a junkie. This was one of the hardest because I went from having two cars to having no cars and being out 1100 dollars. Also, trying to get around with a big belly and no car is really difficult.
At 20 weeks I went in to get an ultrasound to figure out the sex of the baby. The ultrasound technician was unusually quiet and spent a long time looking at my baby. She told me it was a little girl but seemed subdued and left the room abruptly. She came back to tell me that the doctor would have to come take a look. That’s when my boyfriend and I started to get nervous. Just the way she said it put us on edge. The doctor came and looked at my baby too and then told me the bad news. The ultrasound had some abnormal results, my baby had no nasal bone and echogenic or bright bowel which were both soft markers for Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal disorders and she recommended that I have an amniocentesis done to draw some amniotic fluid and check the babies DNA for any abnormalities. After leaving the hospital, I cried and cried. I went there so excited to find out the sex of my baby and to hear that she might not be okay was just the most heartbreaking thing. I am only 20 years old so I thought that something like this wouldn’t happen to me. The hardest thing was that the doctor wanted to rush the amnio in case I wanted to end the pregnancy. That broke my heart, I already felt so much love for that little girl I couldn’t even picture terminating her just because she wasn’t perfect. We went to the genetic counselor a few days later and she told us about the risks, that there was a 1 in a 1000 chance that I would have a miscarriage but that the results of the DNA test were 99.9% accurate and that would give us peace of mind. We had to wait a few hours for the amnio, when we finally went into the room the nurse was very friendly and I’m sure that she had dealt with young scared parents in the past because she put me at ease saying that it would hurt less than getting blood drawn. They sterilized my belly and looked for the baby on the ultrasound to make sure that she was not in the way. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. The doctor stuck a huge 8 inch long needle in my belly, I didn’t look down I kept my eyes trained on the screen where I could see my little ones arms moving dangerously close to that needle. The pain was so intense. I felt my whole uterus contract and reject the foreign object that was threatening my little one. I felt panic, that she wouldn’t be okay. I began to hyperventilate; each vial they filled jarred the needle and caused excruciating pain. I was whimpering and I felt the needle move with each breath. The nurse told me to calm down and breathe deeply. I had my boyfriends hand in a vice grip. I felt really violated and worried, when they took the needle out and turned the ultrasound off I kept staring at the screen wanting to see baby girl some more. I felt the tears coursing down my face, out of nowhere it seemed. I recovered quickly though as I was curious to see the vials that they had filled with my womb juice. I joked with the nurse about the yellowish color and how it was literally baby pee. But when she left the room I had to collect myself, wipe my eyes and just lay there for a second staring at the ceiling, so glad that the horror was over. The healthcare providers had made it seem like a painless procedure but it was really quite invasive and produced weird protective emotions in me. It was the most stressful time in my pregnancy, not knowing if she was going to be healthy or not. When I got a call the next morning, I was still half asleep but when she said that the preliminary results of the amnio were in I was wide awake. She said that the baby had normal DNA and was for sure a girl. I was overjoyed! But also a bit mad, I had been so worried and put so much emotional thought into the idea that she might not be okay, I felt like I had been made to worry for nothing.
In the end, I’m glad that the doctors said something, they were only doing their job, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And I’m glad that I got the amnio done because now I can enjoy the rest of my pregnancy without having to worry if baby girl will be okay or not. I’m so grateful that she is but nothing could stop me from loving her either way! She is my angel and I’m proud to say that even though she wasn’t planned or expected she saved my life. She gave me purpose, before I was a pot smoking procrastinator and now I’m taking the steps that I need to take with the goal of going to medical school and becoming a doctor. She gave me this direction and this purpose. I can’t wait to meet the sweet little kicker that has been keeping me up at night. Thank you for saving my life, baby!
The before picture was taken in the summer of 2010, alcohol in hand! and the after picture was taken June 2011 at 170 lbs, I was probably days from conception
The second picture is about 18 or 19 weeks, a few weeks before the amnio, around 185 or 190 lbs
The third picture is my belly now, at 30 weeks and 200 lbs