Today is a good example of practicing self control to find balance. Every part of me wants to just sit here and pound out a long ranting, negative, finger pointing entry about the shit day I had yesterday. It was a bad one from the moment I got up to the moment I fell asleep, but it wouldn't be productive and would only make things worse. On to another topic: body issues, weight issues and pregnancy. Big fun, eh.
I went from being a teeny tiny little kid to a round youngster sometime between first and second grade. Maybe it was spurred on by the relocation of my family from Oregon to Washington. Maybe It was the lack of supervision offered by my two very hard working parents. It's hard to say, but I'm sure that being allowed to cook for myself and snack as much as I wanted on anything I wanted played a big part. I did not grow up in a house full of junk food, mind you. We were never allowed to have chips, cookies, soda or any of the like but there was always a full fridge and pantry and I loved to cook and bake. No peanut butter cookies? Well, I'll just whip some up! I hold no grudges in this area as I am an excellent cook in my adult life and probably wouldn't be if I hadn't had so many years of practice.
All this cooking and loving food led to a pretty consistent adding on of pounds as I grew up. In my defense, I was always a big kid even without the extra weight. By the 5th grade I was 5'6" and a size 18. No joke. I looked 20 years old but still loved comics and barbies. It was an awkward time to say the least especially because I was also responsible for dressing myself in the mornings. I wish I had photographic evidence of some of the outfits I thought were cool. Lets just say that 90210 was on the air and I was in awe of all the brightly colored outfits consisting of baby doll dresses 4 sizes too big, and that spandex bike shorts were worn under everything. I was not popular but in my head, I was awesome.
It was around this time that my mother became involved and put me on Jenny Craig. Try telling a 5th grader that she can now only have frozen/freeze dried food items and also has to start taking them to school with her for lunch. It won't be pretty and a 5th grader really isn't emotionally or mentally equipped to understand the hows and whys of this humiliating experience. Everyone who had a television knew what JC was at that time, and school went from bad to worse in that very first day. I can still cry just thinking about how the next few weeks played out. I was no longer a carefree kid. I was a weight obsessed, secret food addict that went from awesome to troll and never really recovered. I managed to sabotage the plan in a matter of weeks and was free again to eat as I pleased. Success! Success?? That is debatable.
My height and weight continued to rise over the years and by the time I turned 18 I was 5'9" and a solid size 18/20. I looked great and I didn't even know it. I started working at a plus sized clothing store called The Avenue, and was finally learning that the rules made up by the fashion industry about how fat women should be allowed to dress did not work for me. I did not want to be in baggy shirts and pants anymore, nor did I want to be subjected to dresses that looked like couch upholstery or forced to wear "suck em in" shorts and panties under everything. No matter how badly I wanted stylish clothing, it just wasn't available in my size or in my area. I would drive a couple of times a year to the nearest Layne Bryant, which was almost 2 hours away. I became determined to dress cute even if it meant paying way too much money for items, and even sometimes buying maternity clothing. How unfair is that? Maternity clothing is often still way cuter than plus size lines at the same store. Target, I am so looking at you! I found ways to work around the limited availability of cute clothes mostly by utilizing thrift stores. Even if I couldn't find it brand new, somebody else had and I was happy to take their donated leftovers. Altering and tailoring cheap 2nd hand items became a weekly occurrence.
I was concerned from the start of my pregnancy about gaining weight, not being able to find clothes and how these things would factor into my already dodgy self confidence. Most of the time, I felt great about how I looked and carried myself as if my confidence was unwavering even on days when I started out crying in front of my closet about what a hopeless fat ass I was. Unlovable. Unwantable. Unworthy. A woman doomed to be single and eventually living the life of Goldie Hawn in Death becomes her. Fat greasy face covered in frosting being eaten right out of the tub and 500 cats over running an apartment. My nightmare. However, I was thrilled with myself that 4 months in I had not gained a single pound and the only clothing item that had left circulation was my regular jeans. I was the best! And then I met my OBGYN. I had been warned by every single person that I mentioned his name to that he was a great doctor but a total ass. His endorsement always came with a warning label: he has no bedside manner and is going to be on you about your weight right from the start. I was already feeling negative about him before we even met.
Our first meeting went well enough. Just an ultrasound (after a 4 hour wait!) and not much mention about my weight other than him saying he tells all of his patients to follow a diabetic diet plan subsisting of 1,800 calories a day and NO SUGAR AT ALL. If you've ever had a food craving, pregnant or not, you can probably relate to how unrealistic this seemed to me. Our second meeting was a little more bumpy. He had no interest in me at all other than my weight. He entered the room, sat down facing away from me, asked if I was experiencing any pain or cramping and then went into a 15 speech about my weight, gestational diabetes and how I was sure to develop it and eventually die an early death because of my obesity. I felt a heated dislike for him. A loathing that made me fear I would lose my cool and just punch him in the throat if our encounters continued on this path. But he was the doctor that everyone said I needed to be with. The best high risk delivery Doctor in 3 states. Did I mention that I am considered high risk because of my BMI? This fact is what robbed me of my wanting a midwife and a very non medical birthing plan. Frustrating doesn't do it justice.
I had voiced to my fella that I was nervous about him being with me at future appointments because of how this doctor seemed to be obsessed with my weight and my weight only. He never asked me about medications, family history, current medical concerns, my emotional state, my mental state or my birthing plan. It was all about my fat ass and the number on the scale. I was terrified that he would blurt out my weight in front of my partner. This fear turned out to be valid on our 3rd meeting. Doctor was on his usual soap box about my size, my weight, the complications I was guaranteed to have because of these factors, my glucose tests, the fact that my stomach was bigger than it should be even though my uterus was measuring correctly and so on. All while either having his back to me or scowling at me over the top of his glasses. I was reaching a point where I had heard about enough.
I pointed out that even through the Thanksgiving holiday I had managed to maintain and that I was pretty proud of the fact that in my second trimester I had gained only a single pound. Much to my absolute horror, he blurted out my starting weight and my current weight right in front of my boyfriend and topped it off by telling me that though that's pretty good, he wanted to see my weight going down. I was in a state of that embarrassed kind of shock that caused my ears to ring and my face to feel like it was on fire. I could not get out of the exam room fast enough and was very glad that I had driven myself to the appointment so I could cry in my car on the way home without judgement. By the time I got home, I was livid and already planning my letter of complaint and how I was going to get out of this man being my guide through the single most important, and intimate experience of my life. He would not be delivering my baby and I would not be subjected to his lack of bed side manner one more moment. Hell hath no fury like a pregnant fat girl who's just been humiliated about her weight in front of the one person who never needed to know that number.
I spent the next few days calling other clinics, meeting other doctors and submitting my request for a change of provider. I wasn't feeling the kind of support that I wanted from my partner who seemed to defend the offenses of this doctor and was even unwise enough to suggest that I was blowing it out of proportion and making too much of it. He's lucky that I like him so much or I may be writing this entry from prison. Even if it was a hormonal reaction to a minor offense, that is not what I needed to hear and I kept right on making other plans with or without his support on the matter. I'm happy and relieved to say that I gained his support, found an OBGYN that I love and she was able to get me in for my March delivery. She is supportive and thorough and even though I did develop gestational diabetes, she doesn't make me feel like this is because I have no self control or am a bad person because I ate some freaking cake. She has gently guided me through the ins and outs of my condition and assures me that I will deliver a healthy baby and the diabetes will subside as long as I continue to take care of myself. I trust her. I feel comfortable with her. I do not regret my decision and by taking better care of myself with her help, I have gained only 14 pounds. It took some searching and a lot of stress but I found the Doctor that is a perfect fit for me.
However, now that I am nearing 32 years old and 32 weeks pregnant, not much has changed as far as clothing options. The Avenue is still not my style, my town still doesn't have a Layne Bryant, the plus section of Macy's is excessively expensive and segregated to a location outside of the actual store at our local mall, Target is hit or miss with cute plus sized items and still has a maternity section that is twice the size of the women's department but doesn't offer plus sizes above an XXL. We do have a Motherhood store but their plus section is two wracks and they stock a very limited amount of each size so you can never get what you want anyway. It's a sad state of affairs.
This caused me to reach out to my fellow big beauties and prompt them to tell their secrets. No surprise that it was all Internet shopping. This is great and all but when you are a size 22/24 you really need to try things on especially when your baby bump sticks out a foot in front of you and your ass is somehow even wider than before. Not to mention the added cost and the waiting for shipping. When I'm having a bad day and I need a little retail therapy, it isn't ideal to look at tiny pictures and then have to wait for days or weeks to have my "feel good fashions" arrive. When they get here, its worth it. Patience is a virtue I'm determined to keep throughout this pregnancy.
Some of the websites that were offered up by friends are as follows and I encourage any of you pregnant, plus size, or pregnant and plus sized ladies to take a peak and not lose hope. You are freaking gorgeous and there are cute clothing items, good doctors, and great men out there. You just have to do a little leg work and find them. Happy hunting!
www.simplybe.com www.oldnavy.com www.torrid.com www.dominodollhouse.com www.motherhood.com www.eshakti.com www.chicstar.com www.laynebryant.com www.etsy.com