Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Word About Weight

Living with PCOS, although not realizing this until trying to conceive, I have always straddled the line between "healthy" and "overweight". Always is probably an exaggeration, but I do remember feeling awkward wearing leggings in fifth grade, aware that I did not have the stick-skinny legs other girls had. I remember lying slightly when they recorded my weight on my first driver's license and never seeing that number on the scale again. I would occasionally get as low as ten pounds below the arbitrary cutoff point on the BMI scales, but often being a few pounds above. That number has followed me around for over the past decade, always threatening to call me overweight if I overindulged.

Just to be clear, I was never a crash dieter. Mostly because I didn't have the stamina. I would occasionally follow SouthBeach or Wieght-Watchers, lose 5 pounds or so, and then become complacent. I never gained or loss more than 10 pounds in a year. Until infertility.

I'm not sure if was the medication effects, the fact I was no longer managing my hormones with birth control and now they were running amuck, some emotional over-eating from the stress of it all, or that I wasn't exercising as much because I constantly bloated and uncomfortable. It was probably a combination of all of this. Whatever the culprit, I gained 20 pounds in less then a year. Thirty pounds in two years. Three pant sizes. At times, this felt worse then not being able to ovulate.

I promised myself that if the IVF didn't work, we would take some time off of medications and I would focus on my health. It felt like a consolation prize - if I can't have a baby, then at least I want to fit back into my regular clothes.

So, here I am, twelve weeks pregnant. Almost out of the first trimester. I have weighed myself nearly every morning, as soon as I wake up. I watch the scale like a hawk. According to You: Having a Baby, women who begin overweight should gain 15-25 pounds total over the course of pregnancy, compared with the 25-35 pounds recommended for women beginning in the healthy weight range. Specific recommendations are that only 2 - 4 pounds should be gained in the first trimester, with another 8 - 13 in the second trimester, and 5 - 8 in the third. This is especially important for women with PCOS, because we are already at greater risk for rapid weight gain and gestational diabetes.

I am at just around three pounds so far. I'm on track. And I feel horrible. I think I keep focusing on the number because my body image is so skewed. I don't feel pregnant. I feel fat. When I have gained weight in the past, I've always carried it around middle. My pants get tight and this is a sign that the scale is tipping out of my favor. Now, my belly is expanding and my pants are tightening, and the scale is hardly budging.

I'm at this awkward, in-between stage where I'm not yet comfortable "coming out" as pregnant and wearing empire-waste shirts, but I feel horrible in my current attire. It feels like I'm hiding something, which I am. I keep scorning myself for starting out overweight and then I imagine the ideal pregnant woman as someone who with skinny arms and skinny legs and a little belly sticking out so obviously not a part of the rest of her petite figure. At this point, my protruding belly could easily be mistaken as the overweight rest of me.

Now, I keep fantasizing about how I plan to lose the weight during my maternity leave. I look forward to this all being over and getting back to my regular borderline-healthy body. The ridiculousness of this is not lost on me. Here, I spent years and most of our life savings on this goal, and now, not even a third of the way done, I'm looking forward to it being over.


  1. I'm so sorry that your weight and body image during all of the treatments and early pregnancy is causing you distress. It is so common and stressful. I hate the BMI scale and that a few pounds difference labels people as overweight. Weight can be a secondary indicator of health, but I really wish the focus was more on healthy behaviors and positive body image, especially during pregnancy when women are feeling more vulnerable. To risk overstepping and offering advice when you didn't ask for it... I highly recommend the book Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon. It does not address weight during pregnancy, but it is an amazing, well researched resource that addresses many common myths about health and weight.

  2. I can totallllllly relate. After about a million failed medicated rounds, we took time off for me to lose some weight. I ended up losing a little over 30lbs while sticking to a Low Amylose regimen- the only thing that has everrrr worked for me (I'd tried everything- even 1200 calorie/day diets plus exercising didn't budge the scale). We finally got pregnant this January, after 4.5+ years, and although I'm off the Low Amylose wagon, I've been watching the scale like a hawk ever since. I'm petrified of gestational diabetes and every pound re-gained is so painful after everything it took to lose them! It's so miserable, especially when other people I know are able to have such a nonchalant attitude about pregnancy weight gain. Idk. I also feel like an idiot for obsessing over my weight when I tried to get pregnant for so freaking long, y'know? Ahhh. Good luck! :)

    1. Thank you for this. It is nice to know that I'm not alone...

  3. I don't have pcos but I'm in the same boat...I was at least 10 lbs over my normal weight when I got pregnant and I've since gained 30+ lbs....yikes!!! I'm on track to gain possibly another 10 before the baby comes and fuck, that's a lot of weight for a 5'2" girl to lose!! Sounds like you are doing better than me.