I missed the first few months of all three of my boys lives. Not physically but mentally. My mind was consumed with how my body looked after giving birth, all the weight I’d have to lose, the clothes I needed to fit back into, the exercises I’d have to do. My new mom mind was not preoccupied with all things baby, as it should have been, but on me getting my body back. I did this all three times I gave birth, not learning anything from the previous time.
I was twenty-six when I gave birth to my first son and newly out of my bulimia. Becoming pregnant forced me into a reality check to lose the bingeing and purging cycle. I had more to think about than myself and so I quit cold turkey. I wanted to start being a good mom right away. As my belly grew though, I remember having concerns about my rising weight and worrying it would stay on me permanately but I ate what I craved and started a simple yoga routine.
I was thirty when I gave birth to my second son and in-between those two pregnancies my bulimia was pretty much nil, but she would show up from time to time and remind me of certain foods that were off-limits. I gave birth, having gained the same amount of weight as the first time around, and yet still worried that I’d never lose the weight.
My third pregnancy happened when I was thirty-four and my eating habits were still the same through the years, trying so hard to be ‘good’ when choosing foods and punishing myself when I ate badly. I gave birth that third time and yet still hated what I saw when I stripped down to take a shower. Nevermind that my body had just made a baby in a matter of months and grown that baby to perfection and then birthed that baby into the world, for a third time. My body was ugly, gross and I was completely ashamed and mortified with what I saw.
Three times I gave birth and three times my mind obsessed over my body, my weight, the number on the scale, the ‘before’ clothes I used to fit into, the food I ate. Three times, years apart, I missed out on my babies. I missed out on the joy of being present and building a bond. I missed out on little things and I missed out on big things. I robbed myself of a time I can never get back.
Now my sons are fifteen, eleven and five and I still struggle most days with my body image and my food. Bulimia is a constant thorn in my side and I have to work every day to keep her away. When I first started seeing a counselor in my early twenties, a few years into my eating disorder, she wisely told me that even if the act itself goes away, I would always have the disorder in my life, it would never really vanish and I would have to push it down continually. She was right.
I am tired of trying to be this image of who I think I should be. I’m tired of not feeling good enough. I’m mad that this disorder has taken away so much for almost half of my life now. It won’t happen today or tomorrow or even next month but I want to get to that sweet spot where I can look in the mirror and see more than my dislikes. I want to see my beautiful body for all that it has done and continues to do for me day in and day out.
I tell you my story so that if you are suffering you know that you are not alone. If you are pregnant and worried about weight I tell you it’s nothing to worry about. The weight will go away, but so will the time. Time that you will regret losing because it is precious and filled with so many new things. Time that you can never get back.
Maybe instead of looking in the mirror and defining our worth by what we see, we should look inward. Inward to see and feel and know just how amazingly miraculous our bodies are. They give us life, they carry us anywhere we want to go, they heal, they nurture others, they keep us healthy and able to do so much, they grow small humans. Seriously, when you stop and think about it, aren’t our bodies absolutely freaking amazing?