During my first pregnancy, I steadily gained 50 pounds. This was a major deal for someone as obsessed with thinness as me. I had spent the better part of two decades struggling with disordered eating, using exercise as punishment, and seeing my body as vastly larger than it ever actually was. I devoted four of my teenage years to a loyal weight loss pill addiction, while binging and purging felt like this cool dieting fad I just had to try again and again.
Despite my extremely skinny frame, not a single person ever stopped to ask me if I was okay.
Hint: I wasn’t.
Then I got pregnant for the first time and naturally gained weight to grow the baby girl inside of me. And my OB was thrilled. At my final prenatal visit, she even joked about the weight gain, claiming that my added “cushion” would make for an easier birth. For the first time in my entire life, I was gaining weight and actually being celebrated for it. I didn’t even know people did that.
It went a little bit differently during my second pregnancy.
I hadn’t lost an ounce of weight when I became pregnant with my son. After obsessively trying, and failing, to shed as many pounds as possible, I just stepped in front of a mirror one day, took a good, long look at my mom-bod, and decided to stop the carnage.
I saw the added pounds, stretch marks, cellulite, and mama pouch. And as I did, I remembered that for all of the parts of me I wanted to tear down, there was one giant thing my body went through that was the stuff of miracles. It grew and birthed a fucking child.
My body was begging for me to just love it after everything we had both been through. So I did.
That was two years ago, and I’ve never looked back. I’m on the road to some serious self- acceptance, I honestly love my plus-sized body, and my days of disordered eating are finally over. Please cue Lizzo’s “Good as Hell,” because that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately.
That is, until I went to my second round of prenatal visits.
While the new OB I had was lovely in many ways, she had still been conditioned to look at my size first and actual overall health second. I made sure to inform her of my past struggles with food and body image, so she only brought up pressing issues when she felt they were necessary.
For many years, I hurt my body and self in the name of “health,” just to make sure I wouldn’t become a part of the “obesity epidemic” I was so passionately taught to fear.
I’d have blood tests come back looking awesome, and then she’d decide to have me draw more blood and repeat a test or two, “just in case.”
When my son looked like he might be in a higher weight and height percentile than my daughter was, it was assumed that my size had something to do with it. I was immediately inundated with unsolicited hospital messages about weight loss, “just in case.”
When my glucose test came back totally negative, I still got information on how to treat gestational diabetes. “Just in case.”
And at each prenatal visit, no matter how successful the session was, the words printed on the paper always read the same thing.
Listed underneath “Health Conditions Discussed” was just one, maddening word. Ya know, that word. The non-sexy O-word that basically tells a human being they’re constantly at risk for disease and death because of their size.
Despite feeling the healthiest and most recovered I’ve been in years, and despite having what felt like a much easier second pregnancy than my first, I was now considered medically obese and that was a major problem. It was apparently so damn important that it had to be jotted down every single time I saw my OB. That “health condition” meant that that I couldn’t just take care of myself and enjoy my pregnancy. Suddenly, I felt like I had to monitor myself extra carefully, log every single pound gained, and generally stay on high alert. “Just in case.”
Looking at those seven letters made me want to laser beam the word right off the paper. It made me want to flip all the tables in every room. But it also made me want to break down and cry for every minute I was spending second guessing my newly gained body confidence.
The sad truth was that I had been running away from the word “obesity” ever since I first saw a news broadcaster fearfully speaking about it on television. I was in middle school at the time, and I think I even shuddered at the sight of the seemingly faceless, fat people who walked across my TV screen. For many years, I hurt my body and self in the name of “health,” just to make sure I wouldn’t become a part of the “obesity epidemic” I was so passionately taught to fear.
It was only in the past year that I even realized obesity isn’t a literal epidemic, however, because (spoiler alert!) you can’t “catch” fat. And no matter what the diet industry wants you to believe, there is growing research that shows us how outdated the BMI system is, and there are so many people out there proving that overall health can exist at different sizes.
We need to get with the program, people. It’s a sad state of affairs when we assume that just because a person is thin-bodied, they must certainly be healthy. It’s also totally not cool to assume that just because a person takes up more space than someone else, they must certainly be sick and at high risk for health problems. We are not a “one size fits all” species. Why do we still treat our bodies like we are?
When it comes to the vulnerable journey of pregnancy and motherhood — and really, all the time — could we start treating women’s bodies with equal care and concern, regardless of their size? College-aged Lindsay would have loved for someone to notice how destructive she was being with her dangerously thin body. And plus-sized, pregnant Lindsay would have loved to have been treated as the powerful, strong, and all-around healthy woman she has become.
I credit my body acceptance journey with allowing me to let go of the stress around the prenatal visits and actively celebrate my second pregnancy, rather than feel unnecessary shame and pressure for existing in a larger body. In fact, growing my son felt pretty damn easy. The months also flew by way too fast, since I spent much of my days chasing, climbing, and playing with my energetic toddler.
Exactly when my due date arrived, I labored for less than 12 hours. It took three simple pushes for my son to enter this world, and I was laughing during one of them. “Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen was blasting on the speakers during my final push, and the whole birthing team was dancing while my son was placed in my arms. I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting battle anthem to jam to.
I kicked ass at pregnancy and birth, and I did it all in a “medically obese” body. And that, my friends, is so damn important.
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