It’s taken me a long time to find the words and the courage to share these feelings but I hope in doing so other postpartum Mamas in similar situations may find encouragement and that others in society may be inspired to be more gentle – considering their words and intentions.
Society tells me I am blessed because I have my dad’s tall, lean build and a fast metabolism. Feelings sometimes tell me otherwise. I’ve been called skinny Minnie, Olive Oil, bean pole, skinny bitch, toothpick, and bony butt just to name a few. I’ve been told “put some meat on your bones”, “It must be nice to just eat whatever you want and not have to worry”, and have even gotten “You’re so skinny, I hate you.”
I’ve been taunted, teased and ridiculed out of others jealousy and insecurity. Sometimes it is in good fun with close friends who also bare their own insecurities, with gentle teasing that goes both ways. But often times it’s not just in good fun. It often comes with undertones of true jealousy, insecurity, and even hatred. Sometimes it is truly hurtful.
I’ve dealt with it my whole life and could just brush it off. While I had my own insecurities and struggles with it, I understood where the comments stemmed from and could usually laugh it off. But the reality was I always found the comments inappropriate. Truly, no more appropriate than four eyes, brace face, thunder thighs, or chunky monkey.
But postpartum was a different story all together. The comments weren’t even remotely funny anymore. My postpartum weight and body was a real struggle and this made it very difficult to ignore the harsh and frequent comments from friends and strangers alike. They wore me down and added to my daily struggle.
My postpartum weight is still a daily struggle but I am finally finding myself at a place where I can share my story…
I had a healthy weight gain of 33 lbs during pregnancy. After birth, I quickly began losing my “baby weight.” By just a couple months postpartum, my body was well on its way to returning to it’s pre-baby weight. But weight isn’t the only thing adjusting in those first months postpartum. Despite being almost back to my pre-baby weight, I couldn’t find a pair of pants that fit and every morning was a struggle just to get dressed. My maternity pants fell off but with my baby pouch, new found hips, and slowly shifting body, my jeans were far too tight!
I would get comments about how much I sucked because it didn’t even look like I had a baby (tell my jeans that!) I was told to stop nursing or else I would wither away to nothing. I was told to eat more protein. I was told that I was disgusting and needed to eat more. Sure some of these comments were well intended, some were in good fun and we could laugh together, but some were actually hurtful comments with absolutely no respect for where I was at.
I remember responding to one particularly hurtful comment by shedding a little light on what I was struggling with, which was far more than not having pants that fit. The person laughed in my face, said, “ya, you have no idea what it means for weight to be a struggle and I really hate people like you.” You see, they weren’t playful comments I was faced with. And the truth was I did know what it meant to struggle with weight. Just because my struggle was the opposite of hers, didn’t mean it wasn’t a struggle. The truth was I was struggling every day.
I was struggling to sustain a healthy weight.
I was struggling….
Despite setting timers so that I would eat more frequently than I actually felt hungry…
Despite investing in quality protein powder that we could barely afford…
Despite eating a high fat, high protein, calorie dense diet…
Despite drinking fresh juice and milk for added calories…
Despite meeting with nutritionists and doctors….
I was exhausted. I was emotional. I was drained. I barely had energy to get through the day, some days.
It truly was a daily struggle. At one point, I was merely 102 lbs, over 6% less than my pre-pregnancy weight. According to BMI scales, I was underweight and should gain 5.78 to 43.06 lbs to be within a normal weight range.
THAT’S RIGHT. 43.06 lbs of weight gain, and I’d still be considered “normal weight.” Granted, that was not my goal, but it put healthy weight in perspective.
I have since gained 8.5lbs and feel that I am finally getting back to a healthy weight. I still have follow up appointments with my doctor to keep an eye on it but I feel healthy and energetic.
Everyone knows that being overweight is an issue and a struggle. It is socially accepted as such. But being underweight can be just as much of an issue and just as much of a struggle. But living in a society that showcases unhealthy, underweight models as the ideal makes it hard for society to acknowledge, accept and respond to this struggle. I’m grateful that I have since managed to gain a healthy weight again. I am grateful that for me it was a matter of letting my body and hormones adjust while focusing on hearty nutrition. But for others with weight issues, it may not be this simple. It may be a life long struggle.
So if you are reading this, I urge you to think twice about the words you say about anyone’s weight. And if you are reading this and can relate, know you are not alone in your struggle.