22-Weeks Pregnant, Up 40+ Pounds, and Beyond Exhausted

My 4¾-year old son, who has asthma, was sick for a week and a half with a virus, followed by two ear infections.  After spending five stressful, sleepless nights next to him, administering his inhaler when he wheezed, comforting him when he complained alternately of his chest, stomach and back hurting, I’m a zombie.  Plus, I’m sure that the more than 40 extra pounds I’m carrying, with almost half my pregnancy still to go, isn’t helping either.

My weight gain is so extreme, so early in my pregnancy, because of several factors:

1.  I’m not an active exerciser, but I am an active person.  But, once my husband and I decided to try to have another child, being active wasn’t an option.  Because of my diethylstilbestrol (DES)-induced uterine abnormality, blood flow to my uterus is compromised, resulting in too-thin-for-successful-embryo-implantation lining.  With infertility medications lengthening my cycle, my uterine lining gets a little bit thicker; however, that minimal progress would be negatively affected by exercise, which would stimulate blood flow toward the body parts being impacted—the heart, the lungs, the muscles—and away from the uterus.  Bottom line:  I haven’t overexerted myself in 10 months.

2.  In vitro fertilization (IVF) medications—hormones, hormones, hormones—make women gain weight.  For the majority of four months, from late-May through September, I underwent two IVF cycles, the second of which resulted in a twin pregnancy that required an additional protocol of daily injections of progesterone oil to try to save both babies.  Regardless, I lost Baby B in my eighth week.

3.  I’m an emotional eater, and I coped with Baby B’s loss by overeating.

4.  I’m a former anorexic/bulimic who, psychologically, has to give myself complete freedom with food while pregnant.  I have now accepted that I will forever have body-image problems, regardless of my investments in therapy and reading every eating-disorder book published.   When I was 13, a family member said my calves looked “thick.”  When I was 15, another family member repeatedly told me I had the body of a 50-year-old woman.  I had several boyfriends, from high school on, suggest that I “just needed to lose weight in my thighs.”  But, while I recognize that I will never escape the early damage to my physical self-image, I have gotten strong enough to not respond to my negative thoughts.  So, I eat when I’m hungry.  And, if I overeat, I no longer take laxatives to get rid of the food.  Obviously, being pregnant is the ultimate mind-fuck for an eating-disordered and body-image-disordered person, but, when I was pregnant with my son, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, for the nine months—getting up to 209.  And, I’m proud of that.  And, as of last Friday, at 21 weeks of pregnancy, I weighed in at 189.3, and, for me, that’s emotionally healthy.  But, physically, it’s taking its toll.

Now at 22 weeks of pregnancy, I’m sure I’ve hit and surpassed 190, but I don’t weigh myself at home—yet-another personal triumph.  And, hauling around 40+ pounds of weight has to be burning ample calories, I rationalize.

For me, having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby overrides all else.  So, regardless of my body-image problems, I eat.  And, I don’t exercise.  And, as of last Friday, I don’t lift anything or have intercourse because of my placenta previa. 

And, I thank God that I have a husband who doesn’t trigger any of my “issues”:  He is attracted to me, regardless of my size.   When the doctor told us last Friday that we couldn’t have intercourse, my husband said to me:  “He might as well have told me I can’t eat…”  God, I love him.

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