My daughter is seven months old, and it took me nine months to gain weight with her.
I was one who really did not gain a lot until the very end.
But being a full time working mom and wife keeps me busy busy busy. And that does not leave a lot of time for the gym. Most nights I am lucky if I have the time to slow down and eat a bowl of cereal and chug a bottle of water in between my best attempts at meal prepping, cleaning, etc. My husband is a huge support. Don’t get me wrong. He has never once in our relationship criticized my weight, much less in the past year, since getting pregnant and then having our daughter.
I eat pretty healthy, and feel like I get a lot of movement in on a daily basis being a toddler teacher and a mama to a bouncing seven-month-old girl who has energy for days. However, I hit a confidence wall in December when I was at Mass.
A lady came up to give us compliments on our baby, and then proceeded to ask how old the baby is. When I told her, she asked if I was expecting again.
I was floored and did not know whether to laugh, cry, or hide away until I lost the weight.
There are so many stories in the news everyday about females being shamed for one reason or another by men, but by another woman!? And I know she was not shaming me, but in that moment, that is exactly what it felt like.
Why is it that women are given crazy standards to shed the baby weight immediately and yet the “dad bod” has become a badge of honor? Also, my journey to this continuous weight struggle is not as simple as I had a baby and gained some weight. I am about to share a story that very few people know, but it is such a major part of my journey.
At age fifteen, I suddenly started getting really sick. My blood cell counts went wacky, and for a second, we did not know what was wrong. After a false appendicitis scare, I found out that my right ovary had a cyst on it. It was non-cancerous, luckily, but it would cause problems for a long time. I would not find out until I was twenty that I had Endometriosis, pretty severe at that.
I had surgery shortly after the New Year in 2004. I started treatments to halt any new tissue growths in my body, and my doctor recommended seeing a pain specialist because it can be a very painful issue physically and emotionally. I learned to cope quickly because, at the time, I had just barely started college and wanted to focus on that.
There were times were the physical pain was excruciating. That would become my new norm for the next ten years.
Shortly after I got married, I started feeling familiar symptoms, and after passing a huge blood clot one morning, I found out that my right ovarian cyst was now the size of a small lemon. The doctors immediately went into panic mode because on the ovarian cyst chart anything over a certain size goes into the scary zone. We did the treat and wait first. Things got worse fast, and in less than six months I was in the hospital having an MRI and being told that I needed surgery ASAP. I was working in a toddler class at that point and was told not to lift anything over a certain weight for fear of they cyst rupturing or twisting. That July I went home to visit my family. A few weeks later I went into surgery.
I found out upon waking up that there was no Cancer in the once lemon sized cyst, that was the size of a 2 liter bottle of Coke with fluid in it. The doctor said, had it ruptured, it would have been really bad. I started a six-week recovery. The doctors said it would be very much like postpartum. My hormones would shift back to normal, my abs would need healing time, etc.
Everything was good until May 2015. I had not started a cycle, but that did not phase me because I have always had crazy cycles. Then I started having severe pain between my shoulder blades and then started bleeding severely. Again, part of Endometriosis. I went to the doctor, and they did a pregnancy test.
The nurse came in and was in shock. I was pregnant.
The doctor immediately stopped everything and told me to go get a sonogram, being careful not to walk as fast as I could. I was in a major emergency. I was having an ectopic pregnancy. And to add insult to injury as I was laying on the sonogram table sobbing in pain, the sonogram tech saw something alarming and would not say what. I went downstairs and the doctor then told me that I had PCOS as well. They told me if the bleeding did not slow in 24 hours that I would need surgery and would lose my fallopian tube.
The bleeding slowed, and after checking my HCG levels over the next few days I was told I was okay and out of danger. Now my new life with PCOS would begin. PCOS makes it incredibly difficult to lose weight and keep it off. Because of Endometriosis and PCOS I am prone to bloating, inflammation, and other symptoms, which basically means I look bloated constantly. Endometriosis / PCOS diets are very restricting. (No dairy, no sugar, limited salt, limited to no meat, etc.) This is because a lot of food has inflammatory effects, hormones, etc.
I wanted to tell this story publicly for the first time because I feel like every female out there has a story, a journey. No one’s story is without struggle.
I have friends who are all different sizes and just because they are bigger does not mean that they are reckless with their eating, or do not care about their health. My daughter is a complete and utter miracle and I am blessed that I had her, that alone was unexpected. When I feel body shamed I have to remind myself that the journey to get here was long and winding and the journey to lose the weight in a healthy way will take time.