My Story (Erin)

I am a 23 year old mother to 5 month old Claire. My journey began with the heartaching realization that at this young age, I have fertility problems. Fighting not only with doctors who would help diagnose and treat a young woman with PCOS (polycystic ovaries) but also fighting with myself, with my body- for failing me. I felt cheated… My body was a place of disgust and distrust. Throughout my fertility journey- I had to learn to see it in different light. To be kinder to this woman in the mirror… to learn to love her, because she was going through an awful heartache yearning for her babe.

Moons later, we conceived our first babe… I was shocked and also terribly scared to be happy. So afraid that since it was hard to get pregnant- I expected nothing to come easy… But soon my belly grew, my body stretched and gave way to LIFE.

These images are so many things to me… I feel awfully proud when I look at them, because I see the same woman said and wrote such heart wrenchingly sad things about that body… I see the woman who started learning to accept her flaws. I see a young woman who is happy, confident, and strong… who carried, gave birth, and nourishes this delicious little babe. I see someone beautiful.

At moments, I feel incredibly vulnerable about these images. But I feel like they hold power- and I hope mostly- that they will help someone else to feel a little bit more compassionate towards their perfectly imperfect body.

This story was featured over on Glamour Magazine!

Needing Some Support (Sarah)

Hello, my name is Sarah and I am 23 years old, and I have never been pregnant. My husband and I have been married for 2 years, and we have been trying to conceive since we got married. However, we’ve obviously been unsuccessful. I went to the doctor and they scheduled a pap test and a pelvic ultrasound. Lo and behold, the 4 letters I didn’t want to hear… PCOS. I knew it, I just knew it.. I’ve always had problems with my menses since I was about 14, and I have been overweight my whole life. I thought I had finally got it under control because about 3 years ago, I lost 70 pounds and my period started right back up (albeit I did it very unhealthily.. I refused to eat and I worked out 3-4 hours a day.) I … it was normal for about 2 years, and then (as we all do) I got married and gained some of the weight back. Then all at once, poof. I was right back where I started. I have been trying to diet and exercise, but due to the PCOS it is extremely hard… and I am getting discouraged.

All my friends have babies, and they never had a problem having children. I can’t help but be jealous of them. I have cried countless bitter tears over it… I feel like a failure, because my body doesn’t work like it’s supposed to… The one purpose my body can serve me, to bring another little life into the world, and I can’t even do it. I’ve visited this site for a year now and I have read so many wonderful stories and my yearning for a baby has just gotten stronger. I just wanted to share my story and get some support from other women who suffer with PCOS as well. Thanks for reading… :)

Blessing In Disguise (Tiffany)

Age: 28
1 pregnancy, 3 births
The babies are currently 18 months.

My husband and I had been trying for a year when we decided to seek help. Several tests later I’m fertile and his hormones suggest a pituitary tumor. A MRI concluded that he indeed had the tumor. Luckily we caught it early enough to be able to shrink it with medication. So no brain surgery was needed, thank God! He then went through a testicular biopsy and also started his medication. I started my daily injections of Gonal. A few months later I did IUI. I knew something was up a few weeks later when I woke up at 5am hungry beyond belief! I got out of bed and ate 5 Arby sandwiches in one sitting. Very unlike me. At 4’8 and 100 lbs I’ve always been a very light eater. A few weeks later I went back to the fertility doctor and learned that we were pregnant with triplets. I was so excited!!! However my doctor suggested that we talk to a selective reduction doctor since I am very small. I already knew what I wanted. I was going to keep all three babies. God gave me those three for a reason. He believed in me and I was going to carry out what he wanted for me. But I humored my doctor and saw the selective reduction doctor. He told me I would never be able to carry triplets with only being 4’8. He also thought two were identical and that their chances of surviving were very small. He suggested that I “eliminate” those two and keep the third. I walked out of that office and never looked back.

I never once had any problems throughout my pregnancy. I was still walking around shopping till the day I delivered. And the only reason I had to deliver at 33 weeks was because my dog stole my chocolate off the coffee table. My husband and I had been watching a movie when I had to take another potty break… probably my 100th time that night. LOL. I had been eating chocolate and left the remaining on the table. When I came back it was gone and I immediately knew what happened. I became enraged!!! I waddled out to the backyard where my dog was eating My chocolate and I took it back. Never mess with a pregnant woman’s food. Especially when she’s carrying multiples. I went back inside and threw it away. Of course I wasn’t going to eat it. But I wasn’t about to let that dog take my food. That was for me and my babies. I never got to get another piece. My blood pressure went through the roof. I started having visual disturbances, headaches, and nausea. I tried to get it back down by relaxing but nothing helped. So into the hospital I went.

On January 2, 2009 at 8:23 AM Noah Jacob was born. Then at 8:24 Dakota Rose was born. And my little peanut, Elijah Blue was born at 8:25 AM. Noah and Dakota weighed 4 lbs and Elijah weighed 3.1. Everyone was extremely healthy and came home the next month. And by the way, they were all fraternal unlike what the selective doctor originally thought.

I had gained 100 lbs topping the scales at 200 lbs. Breast feeding really helped to drop the weight. I was left with saggy skin. I made a Youtube video of it before I got my tummy tuck.

My plastic surgery was done in February. I’ve been working out hard ever since I got the ok from the doctor. I doubt that I’ll ever fit back into my size “0” jeans. As of now I’m 105 lbs and wear a size “1”. My hips definitely feel bigger and ache when I go from sitting to standing. I still have a bit of carpal tunnel, but it only bothers me from time to time. My body has changed so much since the triplets. It’s definitely not what it use to be. And losing weight is even harder now. But I wouldn’t change a thing. Not only did I get three, healthy, beautiful, babies… But we also caught my husband’s pituitary tumor in time thanks to the infertility. He took his meds and it went away that same year. He just went for his annual MRI and everything came back clear. Even though it was rough in the beginning it really did end Happily Ever After. Things are perfect. We are truly beyond happy… and I thank God every day for the life he has blessed me with.

Behind Enemy Lines (SMS)

Age 30
1st pregnancy, 1 year postpartum

My body has always been the enemy. This shape which outlines the whole of who I am, encapsulating the parts of me both seen and unseen. Somehow, with time and age, it had come to represent me, a personal definition of who I am, carefully crafted for the world to see. The “me” that existed behind the lines of my body was lost in my attempts to measure up to a cultural ideal.

Before my daughter, I was constantly at war with my body. It never did what I wanted, when I wanted it, how I wanted. Having internalized so many of the messages my culture had fed me, I never felt thin enough, shapely enough, sculpted enough. I starved myself for years on end, adopting strange diets in the name of being healthy, and obsessed that it was never enough. It seemed, my body was always bound to fail me. Years of my life were spend battling body dysmorphic disorder – no matter what I did, it was never enough.

When we decided we were ready to have a baby, my body failed me again. The first few months passed. Then a year. Then another year. My body was failing me on a whole new level. Not only did it fail to measure up to some abstract standard of beauty, but apparently its functionality was also impaired. I spent nights lamenting over a loss of my future family, tears wasted after our Re told us it wouldn’t happen on our own. In the war between me and my body, my body was winning.

Shortly before the three year mark of trying to conceive, we finally did just that. And as my body began to change, so did I. For the first time in my, my body had a purpose. It had a purpose greater than myself. In the first three months I gained 20lbs, and I stopped getting on the scale. My best guess is I gained at least 45lbs during my pregnancy, but that was just a number. I felt free. Free to exist as I was, as a woman bringing life into this world. My growing curves stood as testament to the amazing thing happening inside my body and the only standard of comparison was in my heart.

My daughter was born a mere 5lb 10oz. Complications at the pregnancy caused her to stop getting adequate nutrition – one last attempt from my body to fight my new empowerment. But my daughter was strong and healthy. And next week my tiny peanut will be turning a year old. My body shows the proud signs of mommyhood. A handful of stretchmarks adorn my tummy and thighs, my hips are ample, my breasts have nourished my daughter for these nearly twelve months and they show it, and I’m still carrying some baby weight around because my life is too busy chasing my daughter around to obsess all that much. I still won’t get on a scale. This is not the same body I had a few years ago. This body is better. And I am not the same woman I was a few years ago. I am stronger.

Some days are rougher than others. Some days the drive to perfection revs up again. Then I look at my daughter, and I marvel at how this body could do something so amazing. And I remind myself that how my daughter will look at herself starts with how I look at myself. I never want my daughter to fight with her own body, because she is beautiful and incredible as she is. I have learned that one of the best ways to love my daughter is to also love myself.

For the love of the fight (Dani)

Age: 24
Number of pregnancies/births: 3/1
Age of child: 10.5 months

I struggled with infertility for years. I suffered 2 miscarriages and finally, in August of 2008, I got pregnant again for the 3rd time. I was afraid, but confident. I carried the pregnancy to term and now have a beautiful daughter. When I saw my body after I had her, I was crushed. I had a very hard time looking at myself in the mirror. I had gone from a size 8/10 which I worked HARD at keeping up with because of PCOS, to a size 16/18. It’s been almost 11 months now and I’m in a 12/14. Not where I want to be, but I’m comfortable in my skin now and I’ve come to realize that the scars that I carry are BEAUTIFUL. I may be squishy and saggy and any other negative word that society wants to slap me with, but I have a miracle who smiles at me everyday and SHE is worth these scars. I am a Mom. That’s what I’ve always wanted to be… And I am beautiful. This is a before/after and a picture of my daughter.


Age: 23
Number of Pregnancies/Births: 1
Almost 13 weeks postpartum
Keywords: postpartum, pregnancy, 1st time mom, vaginal birth

After trying for months to conceive unsuccessfully, my husband and I visited a new OB who prescribed clomid. I believed that I was not ovulating, however he thought everything was fine. I got pregnant on the first round of clomid and we were so excited. It was shortlived because the entire pregnancy was a roller coaster from the very beginning. I thought that I just had a cyst from the clomid because of extreme pain, the gyno (not ob, different office) asked me to take a pregnancy test to make sure. I just KNEW i wasn’t pregnant because I had been in the hospital around february 22nd for the same pain which they attributed to my interstitial cystitis and I was negative. Last period was 2/2/09 & I took clomid on days 3-5. We ended up conceiving on February 14th, between all of the pain and my interstitial cystitis flair that was the only time we had sex within the correct time span.
Much to my surprise, the test was positive. I was like, “what the hell is this?!” So i waited a few hours and took a digital test to be sure.

I went in and had an ultrasound done, which showed I did have a large cyst and it looked like my uterus was getting ready for an implantation but the egg had not yet implanted. This was on March 4th, I went to Florida that week for a vacation with a friend and had alot of pain. The ER dated me 5 weeks 6 days and no heartbeat but not ectopic. A week later exactly I went back to my gyno here, they dated me 5 weeks 6 days, low heart rate (low 80’s) and said to prepare that I would probably lose the baby. I was devastated. Then i got to thinking..I couldn’t have been 5 weeks 6 days that week prior and they must have measured wrong and I was so upset that the doctor didn’t think of any alternative reasoning. Plus the heart had just formed so it’s going to have a low rate. I got a 2nd opinion 2 days later and our babies heart was still beating, still on the low side but she ended up being just fine. I was on bedrest from 16-19 weeks then i had a partial placental abruption and hemorrhaged at 22 weeks, so I was on bedrest for another 3 weeks after that. I had spotting the entire pregnancy and I didn’t start to really enjoy any of it until the 3rd trimester.

I’m 5’1 and pre-pregnancy I weighed around 123. I’ve never had a flat stomach, but I was happy with my weight. I wore a size 5 jeans/pants, however most of my jeans were bigger 3’s that I shoved my fat butt into anyway. We all have our favorite jeans that we don’t want to give up. When i was 18 I weighed 107, and by the end of 2007 I weighed 115 and then ended up around 123. I actually ate better during the weight gain but honestly i wasn’t every super skinny, imo. For my height/build I was pretty average.

I started to get stretchmarks around 16 weeks..on my butt, and ended up with them everywhere. I have them on my stomach, thighs, butt, CALVES! I got PUPPS also, which made them appear much worse.
Upon delivery I weighed 165lbs. I remember how upset I was when i went over the 160 mark. I didn’t gain a single pound up until the 19week mark and I was pretty upset by that. My clothes didn’t fit & I had to wear maternity clothes but weight was I was not up at all. I ended up making up for it, that’s for sure!
I had a very quick labor (under 7 hours start to finish) and a completely natural birth complete with 40+ stitches from an episotomy. Even with a not so great pregnancy and hard birth recovery we both wanted #2 right away. We are now on the one & done train, for multiple reasons. One reason is that I can’t stand to see what my body would like like after #2, and I know thats selfish but thats how I feel, honestly.

I’ve seen a couple women on this site who look EXACTLY like I do which is comforting. I’m hoping I will, “go down” more, but don’t have much faith in that.

I wouldn’t be having such a hard time dealing with my new body if six, SIX people in public hadn’t asked me, when I was due/didn’t know I was expecting/wow you’re having 2 really close together/when are you gonna have that baby/is it a boy or girl. SERIOUSLY? That’s what has really given me serious body image issues.

I also think that if my breasts were even slightly bigger (i’m a small A) maybe my stomach wouldn’t look so’d be more proportional.

I’m hoping I can find the time to workout and stick with it, i’m working full time right now and I feel that I don’t have enough time in the day already!

Thanks ladies! (sorry so long!!)

My current weight is 140lbs.

ETA… I’ve since been diagnosed with PCOS, (I knew something was up because I still had not starting my period at 10 weeks post partum & I only breastfed for a few days before my supply dried up/she wouldn’t latch) So I really wasn’t ovulating which is why we couldn’t get pregnant.

Undewear only photo is today, 2.8.2010, bra photo was 12.7.2009 & at 38 weeks 3 days pregnant, I delivered at 39 weeks 5 days. And finally, my gorgeous daughter, Peyton. She really was worth all of it, don’t get me wrong.

Staying Hopeful. (Anonymous)

25 years old
I’m not pregnant, yet, nor have I ever been pregnant. I figured this would be the perfect place to come for support with infertility. My partner and I have been trying to conceive going on 2 yrs. I’m hoping that there are mothers here on The Shape of a Mother that have been through the same thing my partner and I are going through right now. Like most women, that’s one thing I look forward to is motherhood and starting a family. I am a little, or uh maybe a lot afraid that we may never have children, thinking about it gets me all teary eyed. My best friend has two children and truth be known seeing her with them, makes me just want to breakdown. While I’m so very happy for her, it’s still something I’m very sensitive and slightly jealous of I really hate saying that but it’s the truth. Hearing her talking about having more kids and looking at baby clothes when we go shopping together makes me want to curl up in a little ball and weep. I went to the gynecologist recently to talk about infertility and he put me on birth control for 3 months to try to get me ovulating regularly, I have monthly periods but my cycle is irregular. Has anyone out there had any luck with the birth control method? I also have a ultrasound scheduled in Jan, which I’m really freaking out about, they’ll be checking for PCOS. I’m hoping and praying I do not have that, but there is a chance that I might because of some symptoms. The only problem I do not have that most ppl I know with PCOS have is being overweight. I lost 70 pounds when I was 18 and I have been up and down for years, but I have stuck around 150 the last couple years. I’m really insecure about my body, because the stretch marks I have from losing weight and I joke I look like I’ve had children but I havent. I’m hoping the ultrasound can help to narrow down what it is that’s keeping us from conceiving, whether it be PCOS or nothing. so we can hopefully start our little family soon. I’m definitely trying to stay hopeful but I know in the end I’ll be devastated if I find out we cannot have children.

PCOS and Me (Brittany)

I found out a year ago now that I have PCOS. Since kindergarten I have been “mothering” everyone. I have always dreamed about being a mom and I feel that is what I was born to do. But with the PCOS and being addicted to junk food I just dont know how Im going to be able to accomplish that task. Ive tried a lot to get myself motivated to lose the weight, ive even put newborn shoes on my wall. I just ache all the time, my muscles ache, my back…everything aches. Four years ago I went through something that really broke me. I still havent gotten over it and I think my fear of losing the weight way outweighs my need for a child. at least right now. That sounds horrible but Im so scared to be smaller. Im scared to look good. I dont even know if im able to have children. I think I just need the support of someone who understands what im going through. This site has often inspired me to be ok with my body, but now that I know it might hurt my chances of being a mother…its hard to accept myself the way I am. I dont see myself as others do. I know this is a site for pregnant woman and mothers but seeing the support given really inspired me to write in. Thank you.

These Pictures were taken Today 10/22/2009

Updated here.

Postpartum (Anonymous)

For the longest time I was told I was not able to have children. My husband and I just put the thought away. Shortly after we were married I found out I was expecting. I was shock. It took awhile for it to set in. I have always been an active person but due to my job I was not able to go to the gym. So throughout my pregnancy I did very little. I started my pregnancy at 106 and stopped looking at my weight at 165. I know I weighed much more than that by the time I gave birth. My pictures I sent are 6 months PP. I still have some work to do to ton my stomach area a little but I am not in a huge rush. Spending time with my son is the most important thing to me. When I work out I try and incorporate him. We do a lot of stuff at home. It makes me feel good that I am taking time for myself to make sure I am healthy but also by doing it with my son. We recently starting some water classes. It is great to see his fearlessness!

My thoughts on being a plus-size mom to be (Anonymous)

I have been overweight my whole entire life. I always joke that the “thinnest” Ive ever been was at birth – 6 lbs. Funny, but true. At one point, I got up over 400 lbs. Then I made a decision that changed my life completely. I had lap-band weight loss surgery in Dec. 2005. The surgery has been amazing… I would have never been able to lose weight like I have without it. Ive had no complications and would definitely reccomend it to anyone that is seriously obese. However, it comes with its own set of rules and guidelines, you have to work hard and youre definitely not taking “the easy way out”, like some people say the surgery is. If you thought dieting was hard, this is just as hard, if not harder, even. Because of the lap band surgery I lost over 100 lbs., reaching my first goal of getting below 300 lbs. In Jan. 2008, my period didnt show up on time and on a whim I took a pregnancy test. I couldnt believe it, TWO LINES! I was pregnant. So many doctors for so long had told me that I would NEVER be able to get pregnant being so morbidly obese. I had basically thought I would never be a mom… that it would take me years and years to lose the weight I needed to be considered “healthy”. Id been sexually active for years – and Ill admit, sometimes ‘careful’ and sometimes not, and never gotten pregnant. I didnt think I could. But something must of changed, because here we were… pregnant. My dream had finally become true. I am now 7 months pregnant, expecting a baby boy in mid September. I have only gained about 15 lbs. throughout my pregnancy (11 in one month, unfortunately – right as I hit my 3rd trimester.) Ive had no complications with my lap band with my pregnancy… and have actually had few complications with the pregnancy as a whole; heartburn, constipation, acid reflux and being tired all the time, as most pregnant women tend to be. However, I have come to notice that my pregnancy is very different than that of all my friends. Sure, we have the same common complaints, but at the same time they are still very different than me. I look at them and envy them sometimes… wishing I could just be “normal”. I have wanted this baby for so very long, I want the full-on experience; all the aches and pains… the water break in the checkout line at Walmart… I want to feel the pain of the contractions (just til the epidural kicks in! Im not THAT crazy!) I just want it… all. I am still so amazed that my body is doing this… that Im finally pregnant… that Im getting what Ive always wanted. So really and truly I dont have much to complain about. And I try not to compare myself to my friends, and girls I see at the doctor’s office, random girls I pass at the grocery store. But at the same time, its gets to me sometimes. See… they are all on the thinner side and you can see their bodies changing shape, see them gaining weight, obviously tell they are pregnant. They get measured when they go to the doctor… they complain about stretchmarks and clothes that dont fit. (ha! the story of my life!!!) They get to wear cute little shirts that accentuate their bumps. People are constantly asking them about their pregnancy and touching their bellies. But with me… well… My baby is nestled down inside a slighty more tubby tummy, so I still just look fat and like Im gaining weight again… Its hard to find his heartbeat sometimes because of my “extra padding”, so everytime I go to the doctors its like playing marco/polo to try and find it… Ive had 4-5 sonograms to make sure everything is going well, since its hard to see/tell from the outside. I have another sonogram July 10th to check on his size, since you cant really tell manually because I am bigger… I dont have the “baby bump” that everyone is always talking about… its more like a “baby mountain”, actually… Cute “plus-size maternity” clothes are basically non-existant… so Ive spent much of my pregnancy in sweatpants, how charming… The stretchmarks I have are a result of too much ice cream years ago – not from my growing son… Jose, my mom and I are the only ones that have felt him move – as its so faint sometimes, since I carry the extra weight around him… People cant really tell Im pregnant just by looking at me… so I dont get that random conversation in the baby department at Target… This has driven me to tears at time… because I am so happy and bursting with joy that I want to just shout from the rooftops, “IM PREGNANT!” I want to tell everyone my secret!!! I want to see other preggo’s and other mom’s out and about and share that soft smile with each other… its like belonging to a super secret club, wheres MY membership!? I want random strangers to come up and rub my belly!!! (Ok maybe not so much on that last one, but still!!!) But then I remember that Im HAPPY. Im HEALTHY. My son is growing right on track, doing all the things he is supposed to be doing, developing the way he should… and Im PREGNANT, despite the odds. And its then that I realize that Im being petty and foolish and that things could be much worse. I suck it up and realize this…. those that know me, are close to me, and love me – know that Im expecting. They know Im so happy to finally be a mommy. They are the ones that matter. The playful kicks I feel from my son are a reminder that I am never alone… it doesnt matter if anyone else feels them or not. His daddy loves me unconditionally, doesnt care what size I am, and rubs my belly every night before bed. When I start thinking about all these things, I feel a little better about being a “plus-size mom”… and so Ive come up with this; Its nice to know that my body, overweight as it is, is still doing exactly what its supposed to… providing a warm safe haven for my little one to grow in… My breasts might be on the saggy side, and covered in long-faded stretch marks, but they will work just the same, to feed and nourish my son. My fleshy arms will cushion him, hold him as he sleeps, and provide endless hugs thoughout his lifetime. My flabby thighs will provide a place for him to lay on, a lap to sit on, a knee to bounce him on. I know that may be a “larger-scale” mom, but I am a MOM, none-the-less… and Ive come to understand that no matter the size of your body, it is the size of your love for your child that really and truly matters most.