One Mom's Perspective: The Weight Can Wait
I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. I couldn’t wait to do fun “mom” things with my children. I couldn’t wait for zoo trips, family movie nights, and building forts. So when I found myself at 370 pounds at the age of 23, I knew my lifestyle had to change. Over the course of 14 months, I was able to drop 140 pounds just by eating clean and exercising! I had literally lost the weight of another human being! And so began my journey to get pregnant.
Now, I know how crazy women can get when they are TRYING to get pregnant. Knowing it would drive my husband insane, I vowed not to become the crazy ovulation-tracking, basal temperature charting, make-sex-a-chore wife. And of course that’s exactly what I became. I wanted this so badly! This was the reason for my dramatic weight loss and I wanted to finally claim my prize!
As most things go, the month I stopped tracking was the month we conceived. I was over the moon! I would finally get my bouncing baby and my new body would be a cozy room for one over the following 9 months. I found it hard to stick to my clean eating once the nausea and fatigue kicked in. I mean I couldn’t really afford a personal chef, could I? This was something I seriously debated. In the end, saving money was more important, so slowly my eating habits started getting worse, as did my gym trips. I was so exhausted all the time that my legs felt like wet noodles. I figured Wet Noodle legs didn’t pair well with gym equipment.
Over my pregnancy I gained a total of 40 pounds: not great but not terrible. In all honesty, when the baby wants chocolate milk, what kind of mother am I to say no? The cravings were stronger than any force of God by Month 8. By the last month, even though I looked like an overweight beluga whale, I felt beautiful! My perfectly round belly was hard to miss and I got special treatment from friends, family, and even strangers. Everyone complimented my ever-radiating Pregnancy Glow! My skin was in the best condition it has ever been in! Yes, crying over a dropped mozzarella stick kind of sucked, but maybe pregnancy hormones aren’t so bad!
Then on August 4, my beautiful baby boy Grayson made his special appearance. Weighing in at 7 pounds and an ounce, he was perfect in every way. I stared at him, amazed at this extraordinary masterpiece. My body created and nurtured this tiny little life for 9 months and now here he was in all of his naked glory. What an amazing feeling to be a mother! That is, until I got a good look in the mirror for the first time. I looked like an overfilled bowl of jello melting on a hot summer day. “This will get better,” I thought to myself. “I just need to give it time.”
Now, when I was pregnant, everyone told me that if I thought I was tired now, wait until the baby is actually here. Boy, were they right. Life as a new, first time mom was so hard to adjust to for me. I tried to sleep when Baby slept but who would watch him sleep if I was sleeping too?! I became a paranoid and tired disaster. Showers were a rarity and anything more than a ponytail was pure nonsense. I looked like I had been hit by a train.
But that wasn’t even the worst of it, oh no. The worst of it was when I convinced myself that Oreos was a perfectly acceptable breakfast. That a whole box of instant Mac n Cheese was a perfect balanced meal that I could scarf down while Grayson slept. My diet consisted of “anything I can grab and eat with one hand” and that leaves limited options. Even though I had lost 15 pounds 2 weeks after birth, I gained the weight back within a month. I was devastated but found it hard to change my habits while providing Grayson with everything he needed.
After three wonderful months of maternity leave, I returned to work with a fresh mindset: this was the time to change my eating habits and really stick with them. I could return to the gym after work and exercise while family watched Grayson. This would be the perfect set up! However, somehow, Grayson had developed stranger anxiety a few months early: he screamed with everyone who wasn’t the babysitter, my husband or me. So back to Square One I went. I continued to eat healthy but the scale wouldn’t budge. And then came the holidays…
Over the course of the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I ate like I had been starved for the month prior. Seeing family, Christmas shopping, and working had me overwhelmed to the point that showers started to become a luxury for me again. I steadily gained 6 pounds during the holidays. I felt like such a failure. How could I let myself get to this point?
Then I heard the most amazing sound: Grayson laughing at his Dad. Actually laughing, deep from his belly. It was the most incredible noise I had ever heard. At 5 months, Grayson was the happiest, most intelligent baby I had ever laid eyes on. And he was mine! I realized that being a mother is absolutely priceless. The love I have for Grayson is the strongest emotion I have ever felt. The stress of my weight melted away. A 40 pound weight gain is nothing when I see what it gave me.
I feel like so many women are so ashamed of any weight gain that occurs during and after pregnancy. It’s something that isn’t typically talked about. It took 9 months to gain the weight and we definitely can’t lose all of it in less than half that time. The Jello bellies and loose skin are just reminders of what an extraordinary thing we went through! For 9 months, you carry a delicate, growing human baby and then when the baby is ready for the big world, your body goes through an unearthly amount of pain to get them here. What is more incredible than that?
I know the weight will be there when I’m ready to be serious and lose it again. Weight will come and go. I am a strong and determined woman and I know that I will be extremely dedicated in the near future. But for the time being I’m going to love and enjoy Grayson more and more every day (don’t they grow entirely too fast?) and make sure he continues to be the happiest baby in the world. Losing weight is a great accomplishment but raising a happy and healthy child is my greatest accomplishment thus far. So to the mommy reading this, keep doing an extraordinary job raising our Future!