Pregnancy: The scale can suck it
I process what it was like to accidentally see my weight at the doctor’s office today and how evil diet culture is even in pregnancy. After a history of disordered eating and disordered exercise, I discover how easily I can be triggered into past patterns.
My body is a miracle machine growing a human being, and I’m sitting here tonight feeling mind-fucked by my weight. A meaningless number I accidentally saw written down on my vitals sheet at the doctor’s office today.
My badass body just underwent a surgery in which internal tissue (internal tissue!) was stitched closed while I was awake and the lower half of my body was numb, and I’m questioning whether I should eat a few more bites of my dinner because am I really that hungry or do I really need more calories? (For the record, yes, I am that hungry and screw you, calories. Also, it’s salmon. Salmon, for goodness sake.)
My half-uterus is fighting like a champ, making space for my growing son, and I can’t stop thinking about how this new layer of back fat feels weird (read: bad, wrong) as I lie on the couch watching The Bachelorette.
Six hours ago before my doctor’s appointment, I was fine. I felt generally okay about my new shape and my increasing appetite and my inability to exercise (doctor’s orders). I said yes. I allowed. I accepted. But now, I question it all.
Why so triggered?
It is so frustrating to me that seeing a number would cause me to once again re-enter disordered eating thought patterns, even temporarily. All of this nonsense because our disordered culture has taught me that this number means something about my worth and how I fit (literally) into this world. It has taken me 2.5 years of healing from disordered eating and disordered exercise to finally feel liberated from the grips of our culture. I feel proud to say that before tonight, I rarely questioned my hunger or had obsessive thoughts about my body within the last year or so. I have done the work - counseling, reading, podcast-listening, blogging - to finally be in recovery and free from eating disorder gremlins. I have taken the necessary precautions to avoid being triggered. I haven't weighed myself for 2.5 years. I don’t engage in talk about nutrition or diets in social circles. And I’ve said “yes” to my changing body, before and during pregnancy, by accepting when old clothing no longer fits and buying new clothing that makes me feel comfortable.
(Read more about my disordered eating recovery story by checking out these past posts: Embracing My Eating Disorder Recovery Story, Selfie-Spiral, Embrace Your Body: 10 tips to heal from diet culture, and Recovery from Diet Culture: Lows and Highs.)
And even at today’s appointment, I tried to avoid the weight trigger. I stepped on the scale backwards and asked my nurse practitioner to not share my weight with me. I told her to tell me if something was wrong with my weight (not enough weight gain, too much weight gain too quickly, etc.). After assessing the scale, she said, “Your weight is perfect!”
And then I saw the number written on the paper. And then the soft, subtle spiral of past eating disorder gremlins whispering in my ear. And then the evening spent crawling out of the diet-culture mind-fuck.
Mom and sister texts
Thank God for my mom and sister tonight. (Have I mentioned that they are both mental health counselors?) After my appointment, my mom texted me, “How you feeling? What did you think of you dr appt?”
I responded, “I’m feeling okay. A little bummed that I still can’t exercise. A little off because I saw my weight, and it’s influencing how I’m thinking about my body and the food I choose to eat.”
My mom was with me at the appointment and observed me when I discovered my current weight. “This culture sucks,” she said. “I hate this culture even gets you (as in all of us) when we’re pregnant.”
“I know! It’s evil,” I agreed.
“I know…I wish I could just give you my perception of you…a beautiful, young mommy doing everything in your power to grow this baby and give him life. And how beautiful that is…and you are. Holy crap! You’re making a baby in you! It’s so crazy unfathomable. I totally understand that feeling of having to relinquish yourself to the baby.”
It is incredible how healing it was to just have my mom sit with me in my discomfort. She didn’t try to fix. She didn’t try to tell me to think differently. She just listened and felt my struggle. Presence and empathy and compassion. (Learn more about how to best “help” by reading my mom’s guest writer post from July 2018: Guest Writer Wednesday: Feeling Helpless? Maybe I can help.)
My sister helped too with her awesome Karli-empathy too.
“I hear ya,” Karli said. “I’m sorry you saw your weight. That shit is triggering. Go read some Instragram posts about body acceptance. That always helps me. Also, you have another human in you, which you’ve never experienced before. You have to account for some weight gain because that baby weighs something now.”
I then explained to her my obsessive thoughts about my new back fat and how weird it felt.
“It does feel weird,” she said. “And weird doesn’t mean bad. It just means different. Maybe even write about it in a blog post? Whatever you do, do something active toward your recovery. Sitting stagnant won’t help.”
“Thanks for listening, sis.”
She offered one last (very) Karli piece of advice, “And next time, tell your nurse to not write that shit down or make sure it’s out of sight or close your eyes the whole appointment! Lol! Trial and error.”
“True! It’s just too triggering. And I will start a blog post. Great idea, sis.”
And with that, I turned off The Bachelorette (damn Luke P. You annoy me), turned on my computer and Sara Bareilles’s new album, Amidst the Chaos (fitting), and got to writing. To do something active toward my recovery. Because the villain (our culture) and its sidekick (the scale) don’t get to win tonight.
“Body liberation is not just about freeing yourself form negative body image issues. It’s really about freeing yourself from internalized ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not perfect enough’ [beliefs].” –Linda Tucker, Food Psych Episode #177
And so I remind myself…
I am good enough.
My uterus is good enough.
I am doing everything I can to help my baby grow.
(I think the Universe or the One-ness just heard me because I felt a little affirming baby kick telling me, “That’s right, momma!” right as I finished typing that last word.)
With a heart filled with reminders of my goodness and with a baby kick reminding me of this miracle inside my body, I choose to focus my precious attention on topics more fulfilling than my weight for the rest of tonight…like John Mulaney YouTube standup clips…or Richard Rohr’s newest book The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe…or sleep, luscious, pillow-wrapped sleep.