Obese And Pregnant

by Erin Morrison-Fortunato
Originally Published: 
An obese and pregnant woman laying down and touching her belly

Just after having closed my Cesarean incision after the birth of my first child, my OBGYN, an infuriatingly kind and intelligent woman who speaks several languages, developed robots to perform complicated gynecological surgeries and happens to look like a Miss America contestant, stepped in close to me and smiled, “Don’t worry,” she cooed in her soft French accent. “The incision is very low. You’ll be able to wear a bikini.”

“Oh, thank God!” I chuckled to myself ironically, “What would I have done if I couldn’t wear my bikini!?”

Then, aloud, I said, “Doc, you knew me before my pregnancy. I wasn’t wearing a bikini before, and I’m definitely not going to be wearing a bikini after.”

When I first began considering a pregnancy, I was a size 22/24. Even without any medical training, it was clear to me that it wouldn’t be healthy to carry a baby at that size. I set about working my ass off (literally) by exercising and joining Weight Watchers. I was successful in losing 42 pounds. Despite that weight loss, I was still, technically, overweight at a size 16/18. I arrived at my first OB appointment full of joyful anticipation, so excited about our expanding family. The first thing the OB said to me, the moment she walked into the room, was, “Because of your pre-pregnancy weight issues, we strongly suggest you gain no more than 10-15 pounds throughout your pregnancy.” And… excitement instantly and thoroughly squashed.

My body craved — CRAVED — brownie sundaes, and I allowed myself to indulge in one each day. Now, I’m talking a brownie no bigger than a deck of cards topped with a single scoop of vanilla ice cream. The rest of the time, I was attempting to stay true to my healthy lifestyle.

Week-by-week, as the weight slowly crept onto my body, my OB asked about my diet. I was truthful, sharing the well-balanced diet I was consuming, but, also, admitting to my daily indulgence. This OB, a woman so petite she could barely reach my vagina when performing examinations, suggested, “Why not eat just a bite of a brownie?”

“Doc,” I said. “I’m doing my best, but I’m gonna eat a brownie if I want one.”

“Ok. Well, what about 1/8th of a brownie?” questioned the diminuitive doc.

What the hell? Who eats an eighth of a brownie?

In the second trimester of my first wintery pregnancy, my hubby and I took to mall walking. As we stretched our legs, I window shopped. As I glanced into Victoria’s Secret, the windows cluttered with pictures of seemingly pre-pubescent girls with zero body fat, yet miraculously gigantic breasts, the light hit the glass in such a way that my reflection appeared. “HOLY SHIT!” I thought. “I’m gigantic!” Although I was five and a half months pregnant, I didn’t look in the least like an expectant mother. No, instead of sporting an adorable little baby bump, I was a waddling trash bag full of Jello. I didn’t look pregnant, I just looked really fat. I didn’t start to display even a hint of pregnancy until I was seven months along. On the other hand, I didn’t have to go out of my way to conceal my pregnancy at work. To my co-workers, it just appeared that I had been having frequent, passionate threesomes with Ben & Jerry.

It was a sweltering August when I was 40 weeks pregnant with my son. I waddled down the aisle of the grocery store in preparation for a family picnic. Each adult woman I passed looked at me with a certain amount of pity, but one actually approached me to voice her empathy: “Oh, Honey, you look so uncomfortable. It feels like yesterday when I, too, was pregnant with twins.”

Almost immediately, I fell to the ground (in the middle of the condiments aisle) sobbing, “There’s only one in there. It’s not twins. There’s only one baby in there. I’m just fat, ok. I’m just fat and pregnant.” Terrified beyond words, the woman turned and fled, my husband screaming apologies down the aisle at her.

Ok, maybe I overreacted a bit, but I was exhausted, pained, gigantic, and hot. And (and this is a really big ‘and’), that was the SECOND time that day that someone had accused me of being pregnant with twins.

Despite all of the warnings about the horrible consequences that my weight could have on my pregnancies and my babies, nothing all that spectacular resulted from being fat and pregnant. I watched two of my closest friends, both incredibly beautiful and thin, struggle with infertility. Not I. I watched a colleague, athletic and toned from years of healthy eating and exercise, be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Not I. I observed more than one acquaintance deal with high blood pressure, some of them struggling through frightening pre-term births. Not I. That being said, I did go eight days past my due date with my first child and did end up having Cesarean sections, but was fortunate to recover quickly and without complications.

My son was relatively large, 8 pounds and 15 ounces, and covered in adorable fat rolls right from the beginning. The morning after I gave birth, I was excited for my weigh-in (the only time I’ve ever been excited to step on a scale). What other time in my life would I have the opportunity to lose what I figured, between the baby, amniotic fluid, and placenta, would be a 12 pound weight loss in 24-hours? Sweet! I stepped onto the scale with great expectation…I GAINED two pounds. How the hell did that happen? How is that even possible? The baby was nine pounds! I had failed to take into account the IV fluids being pumped into my veins that had swollen my body into an approximation of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

In the end, each of my three babies were glorious little fatties, covered in rolls and adorned with cubby red cheeks. You see, a big mama can mean big babies. Big babies mean that, in many cases, they are able to sleep through the night sooner than later. All three of my babies began sleeping through the night, twelve hours at a time, by nine weeks of age. And, although at seven months past having given birth to my third child I still look six months pregnant, my chubby girl is snuggled sweetly in her crib, and I am headed up for a full eight hours of slumber.

And that? Definitely tastes better than skinny feels.

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