Becoming a mother saved my life. Before I became pregnant with my first son my focus in life was my body. I had anorexia and exercise bulimia for years. In the pursuit of a “perfect” body my body was like an old woman’s. I had osteopenia, the enamel on my teeth was eroded, my heart had palpitations, and I had a seizure. I was 27 years old! I got pregnant on Valentine’s Day 2003 and immediately my whole focus in life changed. I fell in love with the little bean inside me instantly. At just five weeks pregnant, though, my body turned on me (who could blame it!?) I started throwing up and it would not stop. After passing out from dehydration and being taken to the hospital I found out I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum– a pregnancy complication marked by extreme vomiting, nausea, and weight loss. Basically it is like having the worst case of morning sickness 24-7. During my first trimester I lost 20 pounds and was hospitalized five times for IV hydration and nutrition. The IVs kept my baby alive as I could not even hold down water. I worried every minute that my baby was going to die. For the first time in my life I WANTED to gain weight, but I could not. The lowest point in my Hyperemesis came when a hospital physician suggested I was making myself sick because I didn’t want to gain weight. At around 24 weeks the vomiting stopped thanks to anti-emetic medicines used for chemotherapy patients. I slowly began to gain weight and look pregnant. I LOVED the rest of my pregnancy and embraced the roundness of my body, fullness of my breasts, and widening of my hips. Brice was born on November 4 and it was truly the best day of my life. Because of the Hyperemesis I did not plan to get pregnant again, but my husband and I were surprised with a souvenir from a vacation in May 2006! The day I found out I was pregnant again my OB started me on the same medications that helped my Hyperemesis with Brice. I am happy to report that I had an excellent pregnancy with Brady – the medications worked and I only had to be hospitalized once – when I delivered him. Although he had some breathing difficulty at birth, he is now a healthy, happy, and rotund baby. January 12 marks one year postpartum. I have had such a journey with my body over the past several years. At this point I no longer view my body with negativity, but with respect. I admire it not for what it looks like, but for what its achieved — two pregnancies, two births, and the nourishment of two babies through its milk. Unlike how it looked when I was anorexic – bony, gaunt, and child like – my body is now curvy, fleshy, and womanly. I have accepted it. Sure there are moments when I do not exactly embrace it, but thinness is no longer the focus of my life. My focus is my sons. How can I hate a body which gave me such precious gifts? In this sense, my body is finally “perfect.
Photos: Photos: 1) 34 weeks pregnant with my first in yoga pose 2) 34 weeks pregnant with my second 3) Breastfeeding 4) My boys and I
Courtesy of photographer Sara Matlik