My eating disorder was about having control — control over the number of calories I ate, the number of hours I spent at the gym, and the number on the scale. I got to the point I couldn't see how thin I was when I looked in the mirror; so thin I stopped having a period and had a hard time finding jeans that fit. Then I got pregnant. I wasn't remotely prepared to discover how my eating disorder changed my feelings about my pregnancy. I was definitely not prepared to lose the control I'd grown to depend on.
I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't obsess about my body. One of my first memories is standing in front of a mirror in a damp campground bathroom in my bathing suit, thinking that my tummy was too big. I was 4 years old. Later on, in high school and college, I developed a love/hate relationship with food. Once I got married, a good deal of my now ex-husband's abuse was centered around me losing weight and staying thin. He was kinder to me when I was thin, and when I wasn't, well, he was cruel.
After I got pregnant, I went in for my first appointment at 11 weeks along and stepped on the scale. I had already gained 15 pounds. I cried. The midwife said that sometimes that happened with women who were underweight at the start of their pregnancies. "Underweight?" I thought, "who is she talking about? I'm not underweight." But I was, and at every appointment I stressed about the scale while she stressed the importance of eating enough and nourishing my baby. I eventually stopped letting people take my picture, I was so embarrassed at my round body.
It's taken me eight years and three pregnancies to come to terms with how my body has changed with each pregnancy, and to realize that growing humans is badass, even if you gain more than the recommended weight or your hips get bigger.