For 33 years, my waist line and I had an agreement. I’ll feed you what you crave if you promise not to expand too much. I kept my end of the bargain, thank you addiction to Mexican food, and I helped her keep hers by playing tennis 5 -6 days a week.
It was a nice arrangement. We both enjoyed the benefits of cute clothes, tight jeans, and a self confidence that could be – was – annoying.
And then I got pregnant. That was the fine print in the contract that allowed my waist line to skip out on her end of the deal. Without warning, with abandoned elasticity, and with her insatiable appetite for cheese enchiladas very well in tact. I knew I should have read those clauses more closely, but let’s face it, I was busy flaunting my figure and meeting Mr. Right.
I found out about our first daughter 4 days before our wedding. In our “oops” moment, we celebrated and still went off to our 10 day honeymoon… in Mexico. Where they have Mexican food. Lots and lots and… lots of Mexican food.
I gained 10 lbs. In 10 days. No kidding.
What else was I going to do? I could not drink at the bar that we purposely booked a room next to. I could not para glide, deep sea dive, or go on a zip line. I could not do the hula at the late night luau – remember, first time mom here – so I ate.
And ate. And ate.
By the time I gave birth to my daughter, I had gained a whopping 60 pounds!
I kid you not!
But, I thought, mostly because everyone kept telling me -and because I needed it to be true, that it would just melt off right after birth.
60 pounds. Off of a 33 year old woman. Just.Like.That.
Before I realized how wrong I was, another positive pregnancy test sent us reeling with delight. I was still working then and in an attempt to kind of “hide” my new pregnancy for as long as I could – let’s face it, I could have made it 9 months before questions started – seriously! – I watched what I ate. Carrots became my “losing weight food” not my “I am eating for two food so don’t judge me for eating the entire 2 pound bag.”
At 4 months pregnant, not having gained a pound, I finally broke the news to my boss. It all went well and I relaxed. But, because I had started with good habits, they continued and in the end, I only gained 17 pounds by the time I had Sarah.
Those pounds did, indeed, come off after birth. But I was still carrying 40 from Katie.
When my 3rd came along, a year later, and I had 3 under 2 for a few weeks, I lost the 20 pounds I gained from her zippity quick.
But again, the 40 from my oldest daughter’s birth clung to me like an Italian to a meatball.
To be honest, I did not work that hard at it anyway. I had three very young daughters, a house on the market with showing after showing, and a husband working longer and longer hours. I didn’t eat all day and binged at night. It is a pattern that is still, to some extent, carries on today.
So here I am, now almost 38, with three active daughters 4 and under and I am still carrying around 35 extra pounds from 4 years ago.
I have tried to lose it. I joined Weight Watchers and lost 17 pounds in 2.5 months. When we moved, I quit, thinking I could go it alone and gained 10 back in less than a month.
I have started exercise programs, tried whole body flushes, taken a weight loss supplement – for a day – it was – err – odd. It made me shaky and tired all at the same time. I decided that I would rather have extra weight than that kind of stress on my heart, so in the trash it went.
Now, I run. When I can. With at least two, if not all three kids, in the triple running stroller. I can’t seem to gain any momentum, or consistency, or benefit. I get home, red faced, feeling good, promising to go again the next day, no matter what and then what comes up. A child or two does not want to get in the stroller, my husband gets home too late for me to go, or life, in general sabotages my ambition. I even tried to take up tennis again but was sidelined by sitter issues and children’s illnesses.
I can admit, that my weight makes me miserably unhappy. I can not stand it. I loathe clothes shopping, bowing my head in shame when I pass the racks that boastfully hold the size 6 and 8 outfits that I once wore with fearless abandon. Now, I head back to the “woman’s” racks and dig through the elastic waistbands that top off black or brown or boring. I cram them under my arm, hoping the girl in the low rider jeans walking back to the dressing room, latest style flung proudly over her shoulder, certain to compliment her flat tummy and tight ass, does not see the size that I need just to prevent walking around naked.
I find myself shopping at stores called Lane Bryant and Dress Barn. They have lower sized clothing too, but are no Anne Taylor and Petite Sophisticate. I can’t find things in those stores anymore. Despite my 5’1″ height, my waist rats me out and I can no longer be classified as “petite”. Another fine print line item.
I never, I repeat, never ever ever ever, take my husband shopping with me. I took him once. Right after my third daughter was born. He was excited to get me something that was not grey and in the sweatpants category. I showed him one outfit, watched as his eyes did not light up like they used to when we’d go together BK – before kids – and burst into tears. Nothing he did. In fact, he was wonderful, telling me how beautiful I looked and saying all of the things men are supposed to say. But I knew. I knew that he missed the way I looked before and secretly hoped I would look that way again. Even after 3 babies in 3 years.
Now, as I hold steady at 35 pounds over weight – at least I am consistent, right? – I wonder if this will be a life long struggle. One that my daughters will see and take as the way it is supposed to be. That a woman is supposed to struggle, try everything and continually fail. That she is supposed to hate to look at herself in the mirror. That she can be caught staring longingly at her wedding photo and be seen wiping tears away because she does not understand how she could just be this way.
I wonder if, as they grow and make friends and see their moms looking good, if I will be the “fat” mom. The one that makes the best cupcakes, but the worst role model? Will they be embarrassed to introduce me, knowing that the excuse that it is left over baby weight is lame and so 10 years ago?
Or worse. I am concerned that I will create a likeness of me in one of my daughters. Thus setting her up for a lifetime of fighting herself, teasing, and non existent self – confidence. I won’t intend to do it. It will happen naturally. The one, or two, that most relate to me and need something to hold on to might choose my weight issues instead of my sparkling, brilliant, personality.
In the end, I have to conquer this demon that has only reared it’s head as a result of the most amazing thing that has ever happened in my life – becoming a mother. Surely if I can endure 3 c- sections in 3 years, some seriously disgusting diapers, vomit down my shirt, and all nighters with a high temp, miserable baby, I can make myself do what needs to be done to whittle my body back into peak, fighting condition. And if I can’t do it for me, I should at least try to do it for them. I need to set an example, give them a happy, confident mother who loves herself as much as she loves them.
Or at least make myself look like my former self, only with more supportive bras and grayer hair. Because my former self made me who I am today.
And I would hate to lose her in a hiding waist line.