I’ve never been what you would call a slim girl. I’ve always struggled with my weight and I was a chubby child, but from my late teens going into my early twenties, I started to focus more on my health and wellbeing, so I started to exercise more and make a big effort to eat healthily. I slimmed down to a healthy size 10/12. I was in the ‘normal’ range and I had curves in the right places. I was happy and loved my body.
Fast forward to 2015 and I was pregnant with my first child, Charlie. I ate healthily during my pregnancy and still managed to go to the gym and do a few classes a week or swimming. My birth plan didn’t go to plan (as most births probably don’t) and my waters broke on a hen do in Dublin 6 weeks early. I ended up coming home on the ferry and having him via C Section the next day.
Nothing prepares you for the recovery time from a C Section nor does it prepare you for the muffin top and overhang your belly suddenly creates. I had expected the weight to just start dropping off after I had Charlie, but gosh was I wrong! I couldn’t do any strenuous exercise for a few months and the tiredness and chaos a new baby brings caused me to have a lot of takeaways, toast and cake.
I joined Slimming World a few months after having Charlie and did lots and lots of walking so eventually the weight started to shift, and I slimmed down, so I was only 8lbs off my pre-pregnancy weight. I could not shift the 8lbs no matter what I tried, so I accepted that this was to be my new weight and that that my body had changed a bit post-pregnancy. I had not managed to get back to the gym at all. When I went back to work full-time, all my other time was dedicated to Charlie as otherwise I felt like he wasn’t getting enough of my attention.
I got married in 2017 and fell pregnant again shortly after. This pregnancy was different. I had the stresses of work, a nearly two year old to look after and because I thought this would probably be my last baby I didn’t care what I ate and embraced eating all the things I loved – cake, chocolate, biscuits and takeaways. I put on 3.5 stone and ended up having another C Section. Jorgie Mae was born on 27th April 2018.
This time was even harder. I had a 2.5 year old to look after as well as a tiny baby and found that I hardly had any time to myself at all. All my time was demanded by these two tiny people. I would start the day trying to eat healthy and would do well all day but then once the kids went to sleep I would find myself binging on chocolate to release all the stresses of the day. I felt like I deserved it as a treat for getting through another day. I’d then feel guilty and disgusted with myself for eating all of that rubbish and promise that I would start a diet again the next day.
Some days I feel quite good and tell myself to give it time and that losing weight is a marathon and not a sprint. Other days and I feel in despair like I’m never going to lose the weight and get anything that resembles my old body back. I can understand why some mums experience PND and I am sure this must be a contributing factor. You feel like you lose yourself a little bit when you first have children. You just become ‘Mum’, but this is in every aspect. Not just mentally, but your physical appearance too.
I’m now in a better place. Jorgie Mae is now 3 months old and I have started to exercise again. I go to the gym 3 mornings a week as Charlie is in nursery and I am lucky enough to have my mum to look after Jorgie. I am trying to make changes to my eating and I am eating a lot of healthier meals including salads, lean meats and healthy carbs, although I still haven’t completely cut out the chocolate in the evening yet. I’m doing lots of walking which is good for Charlie too. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but my mental health and wellbeing has improved, and I am feeling more positive that I will get there eventually.
One of my other problems is that I feel like I still look pregnant nearly 4 months after having Jorgie. After some research I have discovered a condition called diastasis recti which is when the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy leaving gaps which result in your belly expanding out. I’m not saying that I have this, but it is something I definitely want to explore more.
As a final thought to any mothers feeling the same as I do, I think we just need to give ourselves a break. I have created two amazing tiny human beings and if as a result of that I have to accept that my body may never be the same again then I will have to adapt to this and learn to love my new body for what it has given me.