I have always been thin. As a child, I wore “slim” if that was an option, a belt if it wasn’t. My mother had to take in the waist of my clothes from the time I entered school. I had round little cheeks, but a defined waist from the age of 4. Between the ages of 13 and 39, my weight pretty much stayed between 90 and 110 lbs.*
I’m still thin by most standards. Nobody’s going to give me a modeling contract, but according to all of the height/weight charts, I’m healthy. Enviable, even. As of this morning, I am 124.5 lbs (I am 5’6″), and measure 35 – 28.5 – 38.5.
And last night, my daughter called me fat.
Well, not in those words. But she asked me why I have “that big ol’ belly,” if I’m not pregnant. (I am softer and squishier than I used to be, true. But I’ve had two children. Recently.) She also frequently makes reference to my “big ol’ boobies”** and “big ol’ butt.”
Before I got pregnant with Kai, I put on some weight. I had some issues with Anya that were possibly hormone related (low progesterone early in the pregnancy, and inadequate milk supply after she was born), plus a history of miscarriage. I suspected that increasing my body fat percentage might help improve my hormone levels, so I gained about 15 lbs before we started trying to conceive. And everything went fine this time around, so it looks like I may have been right.***
I had hoped that the pounds would leave of their own volition due to the extra calories burned by breastfeeding, but I have been hovering between 120 and 125 for six months no matter what I do. And any time I eat fewer than 1800 calories a day, my milk supply drops. So until Kai weans, I am making no effort to lose weight. It is more important to me to be able to nurse Kai than it is for me to feel attractive.
But I don’t feel attractive. Though I’m a mere 10-15 lbs over what I want to weigh – a difference of maybe a couple of inches of flesh, all told – I don’t feel like me. This is not my body. Not my face. I feel frumpy and swollen and gross.
And apparently Anya’s gotten that message.
I have tried very hard not to voice my feelings about my body in front of her. She thinks I’m beautiful (well, she hates my gray hair, for some reason), and I don’t want to create that conflict in her at this young age. But I guess I didn’t try hard enough. And conflicted she is.
When she first started talking to me about my big ol’ self, she told me I was soft. So soft. So nice to snuggle with. She’s taken to laying with her head on my belly instead of my shoulder when we lay down to sleep. But last night, she was slapping at my pudge. Pummeling it. Clucking about my big ol’ belly.
“Is it bad, that I’m big?” I asked her.
“Yeah. You need to make that belly go away.”
Now, she may just be worried that I am pregnant again. (I’m not.) She adores her brother, but that doesn’t mean she wants another one. But I don’t think that’s it.
I have no intention of weaning Kai; I plan on letting him do that on his own. (Though I may change my tune when his teeth come in.) So I could be this size for a few years. And I don’t want to nitpick myself that whole time, any more than I want Anya to nitpick me – or herself. So I’m trying to learn to accept and embrace my new dimensions.
Maybe if I can figure out how to stop loathing my body, I can come up with a way to keep my daughter from doing the same.
*I have an extremely small frame; my wrists are about 5 inches in diameter. And I am not terribly muscular. So 90 lbs is too thin, but 105-110 is a good weight for me.
**In the interest of full disclosure, only one of them is big. The other never got with the milk-production program, and as such is pretty normal in size. It would fit inside the other one. With room to spare.
***I am not a doctor. This is all purely conjecture on my part.