A glimpse of my journey during pregnancy and mothering as an eating disorder warrior
My youngest will be four tomorrow! That so sounds so crazy to say I don’t have little babies anymore. For so long it was my life. Being pregnant, nursing, nap times, diaper changes…its all changing some now, and it’s bittersweet. Im excited to see my girls growing up little by little, but I do miss those sweet baby snuggles. Its made me reflect some on how pregnancy and being a mom brought so much healing in regards to nourishing my body. I also wanted to talk a little about how many women are scared of these changes, especially if recovering from an eating disorder, and hope I can shed some light in the joys of motherhood.
I got married soon after college, which was about four years of weight restoration. Eating disorder recovery took time and my eating disorder thoughts were still there at times, despite physical health. Not long after getting married, I found out I was pregnant with my first, at the age of 24. I had only had my period naturally for about a year, so I didn’t know if it was possible. Seeing that pregnancy test come up with those two bright pink lines was the most joy I think I have ever felt. The insecurities of feeling inadequate as a woman and fears of not knowing if I could get pregnant, were completely gone in that moment. I was a mom now. My body did this. I felt so thankful and proud of the hard work of overcoming so many fears.
A couple weeks later, I was extremely sick. I couldn’t keep anything down and had no energy. It was the first time in so long that I was terrified to lose weight and not eat, but had no control over it. I was scared of losing my baby and nourishment was for her firstmost. Foods that normally would be a huge challenge for me, was all I could get down. It was freeing to enjoy those foods and enjoy my little girl growing in my belly. I was able to be active, but felt free to scale everything and just enjoy movement. I felt truly beautiful for the first time in a long time.
Fast forward a bit to her birth. I'll never forget that night contractions started and driving to the hospital. I was nervous but knew I could do it. I had Rane on July 15th, 2016 around 10:00am. Immediately after giving birth, I was starving. The nausea was completely gone. So strange, but felt so good to get a good meal and energy after long hours of labor. She and I were both healthy and suddenly my life was changed. I had no idea what I was doing but I just took care of all her needs, and it felt so right. I was determined to have her naturally and breastfeed (if all possible). Without rest and nourishment, I couldn’t have. I did both and felt so proud and confident, knowing my body was capable of carrying and nourishing my baby!
Postpartum was a little hard for me, body image struggles and lack of sleep combined were rough sometimes. I didn’t fall back into old patterns though. Just because I wasn’t pregnant didn’t mean nourishing stopped. No, I felt the need to care for my body so much more now. Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy and so I needed more. I began to listen to my body and give it what is needed. Exercise was enjoyable and I was amazed at how much fueling allowed me to be there for my baby mentally, emotionally, and physically. Let me tell you though ,she was a wild one lol, and kept me moving. I breastfed her for over two years, which was a huge dream of mine! She was diagnosed with autism, and affection and words became less and less. Looking back on those two years of nursing, are the sweetest memories I have. We spent nights just curled up together as she ate, and her only word for so long was “milk”. It brings me to tears just writing this.
While still nursing, I got pregnant with my youngest! I was a little more tired this time when seeing those double lines show up haha, but that same feeling of complete and utter joy was there. I knew my purpose was to be a mom, and it was happening again. It would have been impossible if I let eating disorder thoughts rule my life. This is especially true during the postpartum period, which can be triggering for some.
Two weeks later, that sickness came back and lasted again the whole nine months. I went to the doctor early on and had scary low blood pressure, and wasn’t able to keep anything down, while still breastfeeding. It was a scary feeling again. I didn’t have control over this, and needed the nourishment. The goal of fueling wasn’t only for me again. That is freeing to be able to accept that. Thankfully I was able to get some help again with medication, and ate what I could during those months of pregnancy. I had Braxton hicks contractions anytime I did too much exercise, so that was worrisome, so again scaled movement and moved for stress relief and enjoyment. If body image issues arose or anxiousness of being a mom of two, her little heartbeat bought me back to reality. I would again feel the most beautiful I ever have. I had a little life in me and I felt that.
March 1, 2019, I gave birth to my little girl Hazel, in my apartment with a Midwife and Doula. It was incredibly hard, but empowering. She was perfect and so tiny.
Rane came to meet her and it was most overwhelming feeling that I had two beautiful girls now. They are my responsibility in all aspects, including how I care for mind and body. Rane saw me nourish well and breastfeed Hazel for 18 months. As they have grown a little older, they have seen me really go all in with Crossfit and weightlifting and fueling for sport. My goal is that don't see me talk about diets or my body in a negative way. We talk about how strong we are and how eating makes us strong and happy. Fueling not only looks like eating, but working on filling up in so many other areas as well help me be the best mom I can be.
Being a mom comes with ups and downs. They have seen me go through some really hard days, but even on those hard days, even bad body image days, Hazel says things like “Im strong like mommy” or “that dress in so pretty”, or just gives the biggest hug that shows pure love for who I am, nothing else matters. They depend on me for everything, but they may never know just how much I needed them.
Proud of both my girls, and can’t believe my baby is four!