I 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