9 Months On, 12+ Months Off?

by Katie on January 9, 2013

in Parenting, Self & Body

scaleI knew before I had my son that the journey back to my pre-pregnancy body would be one rife with anxiety and struggles with my self-confidence. I also knew that having a history of anorexia would further complicate the situation, knowing that I may have postpartum weight loss struggles. Because of that, I deliberately took some time to mentally prepare myself.

I talked with my family and husband about the concept of 9 months on, 9 months off, of knowing that if I was still breastfeeding that dieting would have to be done very carefully if at all. And to be honest, the past 7 months, I have been pretty good to myself. I gained 34 pounds with my pregnancy and to my great delight, after delivering a 6lb 15oz baby, I lost about 15 pounds in 2 days. And since the day I came home from the hospital, I have not lost a single pound. Not for a lack of trying or wanting.

To make the math a little easier, that’s 19 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, and a solid 23 pounds above the weight I’d like to be. In the time since having my son, I have tried to carefully diet, not restricting fats or calories so much that it would impact my milk supply, but by making good choices, substituting fruit for sugar and upping my activity level when I can. And nothing has happened.

I was perfectly willing to conceded to the 9 months on, 9 months off idea, even though I wanted it to be faster. But as the 8 month mark is approaching rapidly, I’ve come to realize that it isn’t going to happen. I don’t know if it’s an issue with my metabolism and hormones or what exactly, but it’s been every bit as difficult as I imagined, perhaps more so.

Last month I bagged up all my cute pre-pregnancy work clothes that I am 1-2 sizes away from wearing. I put away all my cute jeans and shorts and capris, because I needed to make room for new, bigger clothes. I find myself walking past mirrors and not recognizing the person staring back because I haven’t been this weight since college. And even though it’s been over 7 months, I’m still not used to this softer, fuller version of myself. I still see a stranger instead of the person I was last August, before that second line showed up on the stick.

And so I’m struggling.

I want to be present in the parenting of my child. I want to relax and be okay with how long this is taking, but it is more difficult than I imagined. I thought I was prepared for this, but it’s clearer each day that I was mistaken. That I’m not okay with not fitting into my old clothes. That I’m not okay with the double chin that I can’t help but see in all the pictures of me with my child.

I know that breastfeeding (well pumping, since I was unable to breastfeed my son) is more important to me than what size pants I wear, and that’s what’s pulling me through right now, but I won’t pretend that it is easy. I won’t pretend that I don’t struggle with ugly thoughts about myself. With desires to make unhealthy choices to try to get my body back.

I’m grateful each day I have this baby to remind me of what is really important and to help me keep those thoughts in check.

Our breastfeeding journey will end, at the latest, in May, so though I had planned a 9 months on, 9 months off, it seems like it’s more likely going to be 9 months on, 12 months waiting and then several more months off, at best. Patience has never been a virtue of mine, but for my child’s health and to set the example I want to set for him of self-confidence and self-esteem, I’m going to try my hardest. And that will have to be enough for now.

Katie is a 28 year old Southern Californian, married to a doctor, racking up as much student debt as possible as a full-time graduate student in a health science. Her hobbies include abusing parentheses, baking complicated desserts that almost universally involve frosting and loving her two cats more than is socially acceptable. She’s currently balancing her first child and graduating from graduate school.  So planning and timing are also things she excels at. You can read more from Katie on her blog, Overflowing Brain.

Image from TaylorUSA

Kelli G. January 9, 2013 at 9:55 am

I pumped exclusively for my daughter and it sure didn’t have the same effects as breastfeeding when it came to weight loss. I am exactly in the same boat as you, other than my daughter being 18 months old now! I lost 20 lbs that first week, and not much more since. Am 20 pounds from where I want to be, and am also struggling. It seems a lot harder than it was pre-baby. Good luck to you!

Christy January 9, 2013 at 10:32 am

There are some of us who do not experience the magical weight loss that is supposed to come with breastfeeding. With each of my children, I nursed for about 10 months, and after weaning them, I was FINALLY able to lose the 15 (ok, closer to 20) lbs I couldn’t seem to shift. It was actually pretty easy. Really, don’t beat yourself up about this.

BakingSuit January 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I’ve had a few friends/family tell me and I’ve read of some women just not able to lose weight until after they’re done breastfeeding. One of the blogs I used to read went back to running quite soon because she missed it and she held on to about 10-15lbs until she was done breastfeeding. I guess her body just really wanted that cushion.

Melissa January 9, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I want to 3rd (or 4th?) the notion that some people just do not loose weight while breastfeeding. I have 4 children, and with all but the last, the weight came off quite easily, but only after I stopped breastfeeding. I ran, watched eating choices, etc… while breastfeeding and I couldn’t get my weight to budge more than 2 or 3 pounds for that year, but once the breastfeeding was done, my body seemed to remember how to loose weight once again, and I was my high school size even after my 3rd. My 4th child has been a whole other weight loss journey, but I think it’s understandable that now I’m the oldest I’ve been, and I gained the most with him, and after 4 kids, and bad genetics, I’m going to have to work pretty hard this time around.

TrainHer January 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I will also vouch for the concept of not dropping weight while breastfeeding. Some women (myself included) hold onto the weight….you know, in case we need to breastfeed a village. It is hard. Lack of sleep was also a big factor for me.

You will get there.

Amanda January 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I’m going to 5th what is written above. I know that some women seem to magically lose weight while they’re breast feeding, but I seem to know many more that hold on to that extra weight until they’re done.

I tried really hard to breast feed, but even though I’d told the nurses that I wanted to meet with a lactation consultant, no one ever came to see me. See, I very inconveniently checked into the hospital on a Friday night, was discharged Monday morning and was told “they don’t work weekends” and “it’s not that hard” by the nurses that I did have. Anyway, I didn’t know what I was doing (and I wasn’t in a great place, emotionally), so I got really stressed and didn’t eat. I also didn’t produce any milk. I’ve made my peace with it, and my son is fine, but I still would have traded my rapid (and frankly, unhealthy) weight loss for being able to breast feed my child. Remember to be kind to yourself – what you’re doing right now is far more important than losing weight. You’ll have time to do that after you’re done.

Stacey January 9, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I’m going to go at this from a completely different angle – I’m a regular reader of your blog for quite some time so this isn’t a knee jerk reaction, but I’m wondering why can’t you do both? You had expressed the desire to get back to you this year so why not include some form of exercise in that process. Maybe I am missing the point of this post, but I feel like you have it in you to start slow and find something that works for the balance you need for your happiness with both your post baby body and your pre baby needs.

Lisa January 9, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I was glad to read this – I’m 7 months pregnant, have been overweight my whole life and have struggled with bulimia in the past. This weight thing is kind of freaking me out – right now I know it’s fine because of the baby and the fact that he needs to weight gain, but I’m really worried about afterwards and how I’ll deal with my body image, etc. It’s so hard to not fixate on the scale. It was good to read this. And, what a crazy shift of my mind set – the only time in my life where weight gain is good and encouraged – it feels a little like bizzare land when I think about it!

Nanette January 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Yup, I’m one of those unlucky gals who was not blessed with the calorie-burning affects of breastfeeding.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: