This post was originally posted here as a guest blog for the lovely Ellie at Having A Baby And Living At Home.
As a teacher of teenagers I have to be confident and secure in myself as at any time, a student can make a comment that would send some people’s self-esteem crashing. I have to be able to support them through their own self confidence issues and guide them as they find their way through the twisting roads of their teens.
Pre-Sprog I never had any real trouble with my confidence. My weight has never been particularly stable; in University I put on a few stone, lost it and then spent my life trying to balance and maintain a ‘sensible’ weight for me. That was never a ‘sensible’ weight according to the charts, I’m 5’ 8” and was somewhere between 11 and 11 ½ stone (most of the time). I was confident, a happy hour-glass figure with tremendous boobs! We should all appreciate our best features!
Shortly before we decided to try and make a baby, we got married. I was at my most slim in a long time. I was buying clothes in a size 10, even more impressive when my boobs are taken into account. I was so happy in myself and barely flinched when I saw my cheesy grin in photos.
Then in the first few months of pregnancy, I really struggled. It’s a hard reality in a world that promotes healthy eating and exercise meaning a healthy figure, that whilst doing this and having spent the previous 7 years of my life acutely aware of what was entering into my body and how many calories I was burning, I was doing these things but gaining weight. The stage before it became a clear baby bump was mentally challenging for me. The little podgy bit of tummy getting squishier and growing out of normal trousers even before my 12 week scan. I had to stop weighing myself and comparing to the ‘normal’ as my app told me that I was putting on more weight each week than was ‘normal’. At one point, a midwife even suggested that I was lying to her when I said that I wasn’t overeating excessively as I was gaining more weight than I was meant to. She tried to get me to go weight management classes. Unfortunately for her, my hormones and my workaholic lifestyle meant that there was no way that I was going to take two hours out of work every Friday to be told I was too fat when I was pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I was enormous and to a very uncomfortable point but I knew that I had not put on excessive amounts of weight that was not baby related; my face was not too round, the kids at school said that before they knew for definite, when they only suspected, it was because it was just my tummy that was growing!
Spot the heavily pregnant banana! 3 days before Sprog arrived
Since having Sprog, I have been through a rollercoaster of emotions regarding my weight. It’s been really testing. I thought I was tougher but I’m not. I thought that because I’d lost weight before it would be easy. It’s not. And then to finish it off for me, I had a weekend of bridesmaid dress shopping to look forward. With 3 other bridesmaids who are all smaller than me!
This weekend had been filling me with dread and anxiety. Having to shop, for nice dresses (not just a marginally baggy t-shirt to pull on – my Mama uniform), in places with great big mirrors which show everything as it actually is (not the figure I think I have). I have been struggling with buying ‘normal’ high street clothes as it is as nothing caters for me and my figure at the moment, I’m not hugely overweight (I managed to hit pre-Sprog weight at the start of the summer) but I do have this funny blobby stomach now. It was never flat before, but now it’s like I’m more apple shape then hour-glass, and I don’t know how to dress that so I’ve avoided clothes shopping as much as possible for the last year.
I let my anxiety eat me up and I was so nervous about the dresses. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I was able to fit into the majority of the size 12’s offered by various bridal shops. It’s safe to show this picture as it was not the winning dress!
One of the other bridesmaids said something over the weekend that struck a chord. “Life’s too short” and it changed the meaning of that for me. I had begun to think that life was too short for worrying about being a bit too podgy, a bit too round, or not entirely comfortable in myself. But actually life is too short to plod along being unhappy with how I look and feel. The kids at school will never know the different in my body confidence, us teachers are good actors, but I know the difference and I used to enjoy clothes.
So I’m setting myself 2 aims. To suck it up and stop believing that’s its ok to be a bit unhappy, and to stop eating chocolate!! I have to learn to accept that my shape is different now, that’s not a bad thing; there are still clothes that flatter me and I just have to learn to hunt down and shop for those clothes that do make me feel good – and remember that even in bridal sizes (smaller than high street!) I made it into size 12’s.