What It’s Like to Be Pregnant After Recovering From Anorexia
In our new series Pregnancy Diaries, we ask expecting women to jot down every pregnancy-related detail of their lives for a week. (Special thanks to New York mag and Refinery29 for the inspo.) Work-related conundrums, struggles with IVF and a whole lot of nausea ahead. This week, we have a 28-year-old Cleveland-based child therapist who’s 25 weeks along with her first child. She and her husband conceived much quicker than anticipated — about a year sooner than they planned — but they’re excited for the new addition.
How long did it take you to conceive?
It happened unexpectedly — about one year sooner than we planned, but what a blessing!
Were you previously using any method of birth control before or during the time of conception?
I took birth control pills, although stopped last summer because it was triggering severe migraines with aura and my doctor told me I was at risk for stroke. I honestly wasn’t worried about getting pregnant while off of birth control based on my history, and it was a challenge for my mom and older sister to get pregnant. I assumed I would need fertility meds to get pregnant down the road. One should not assume.
Any other details relevant to your pregnancy?
One of my biggest fears was not being able to conceive and that I “messed up” my body’s ability to produce children because of my history with anorexia nervosa. I was diagnosed at age 17 and struggled on and off, in and out of therapy, and wasn’t fully recovered until I was 23 or 24 years old. During the time of my illness, I was told by doctors that because of my low weight and having amenorrhea (loss of period), I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. Even after finding my health and recovery, I was still so fearful that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant because of the years of hell I put my body through. I had developed osteopenia, and who knows what the anorexia did to my baby-making system? I was basically setting myself up to expect that my body would have a difficult time getting pregnant — and to my surprise (and my husband’s), we found out I was pregnant the day before leaving for our honeymoon to Jamaica. No piña coladas for this momma! We were shocked, in disbelief and filled with joy that God had blessed us with a child. The month of October we got married, found out I was pregnant, went to Jamaica and bought a house. Talk about a life-changing month.
6 a.m. — It is so hard waking up in the morning. A solid night of sleep is a rarity these days, interrupted by multiple trips to the bathroom and hip pain. I imagine I will be looking back at these nights envious of my sleep when compared to the low sleep that comes with a newborn. Oh boy. (Insert scared face here.)
9 a.m. — Finally feeling stronger baby kicks today! I was feeling worried yesterday because they weren’t as frequent. My husband kept reassuring me that she (we’re having a girl) was probably sleeping and not to worry. I find that any small change triggers me to feel worried and wonder if the baby is OK. (Is her cord around her neck? Is there a knot in the umbilical cord?) Pregnancy entails a breadth of emotions — I’m finding I worry about the health of the baby at least once a day.
12 p.m. — Already had to pee once every hour today. I need a toilet in my office. It gets annoying!
3 p.m. — Being mindful to snack in between meals. Since becoming pregnant, I have learned to listen to my body in a way I have never experienced. Now that I am carrying a child, I want to treat my body with the utmost respect and care it needs. Regular snacks and nourishing meals, very light exercise (nothing strenuous), and when I’m tired, I try to rest! Note the word “try” to rest — easier said than done during the workweek.
6 p.m. — Spaghetti squash pasta with Little Italy sauce and mozzarella cheese with Boca meat for dinner makes Baby and Mommy so happy. My husband wonders how I haven’t gotten tired of this meal. Crazy how cravings stick with you during pregnancy. I wouldn’t be surprised if I wanted nothing to do with squash after the baby arrives.
8 p.m. — Wishing I had more hours in the day; household things pile up!
9 p.m. — It’s time for relaxation and evening snacks with the hubs and our Corgi snuggled up on my lap. My favorite part of the day because 1) I can relax with my husband and 2) eat snacks and feel the baby kick. She tends to have some hefty karate kicks and punches in the evening — probably the chocolate or PB snacks I eat trigger some of that movement. I wouldn’t be surprised if she loves sweets and peanut butter like her parents when she arrives in this world.
"That part is a little scary — thinking, 'Oh my goodness; will I be able to lose this weight after the baby and feel back to my physical self?'"
6 a.m. — Tried sleeping with a pillow between my legs since I don’t want to spend the money on a pregnancy body pillow. It was quite comfortable, although I woke so many times due to hip pain and general body aches. I could use about two more hours of sleep right now.
9 a.m. — My morning patient no-showed, which means I get more time to type notes and no bringing work home over the weekend!
12 p.m. — Enjoying lunch and messaging my nurse practitioner because I’ve noticed a change in fetal movements (much less and not as strong). She reassured me that this is typical to have inconsistencies at 25 weeks; my placenta is anterior, which can be another cause for difficulty feeling movements. To be safe and more so a piece of mind for myself, she encouraged me to go in this afternoon to see her.
3 p.m. — Heading out to see my nurse practitioner with my husband. He has come to every appointment and been such a support this whole journey. Fast-forward to one hour later, we are feeling relieved and thankful that our little one is OK! She moved to a new position, which was making it difficult to feel much movement. I’ve been steadily gaining weight, which my nurse reassures me is great and the baby is growing at an appropriate rate. All wonderful news to me, although I have to remind myself this when I see the number on the scale rise to numbers I’ve never seen before. That part is a little scary — thinking, "Oh my goodness; will I be able to lose this weight after the baby and feel back to my physical self?" My brief worry is fleeting as I embrace the fact my body is creating a human and doing what it is supposed to do. Healthy growing momma, healthy growing baby.
6 p.m. — Heading off to spend some time with my family. My nieces and my mother love getting up to my belly button and talking to my belly. Makes me chuckle, that’s for sure. I really don’t have a problem with people touching my stomach. I’m proud of my pregnant belly; obviously, if someone tried to get touchy-touchy with my stomach that I didn’t know, we’d have a problem, but I don’t foresee this occurring.
8 p.m. — Cavs game playing in the background while the dog accompanies me in the kitchen (scrap chaser). You best believe if the Cavs are playing, it will be on our TV no matter what. Our baby will have Cavs gear no doubt.
10 p.m. — Checking out my changing body after the shower and it is definitely new. I am amazed at all the changes your body goes through to house a baby. Exciting, weird and scary.
"Uh-oh — another baby growth spurt?"
6a.m. — Sheesh, hip pain is no joke to disrupt sleep.
9 a.m. — Love Saturday mornings when I can eat breakfast with my love and enjoy coffee from a mug vs. a travel mug to work. Still in my fuzzy robe and have yet to put on a bra or clothing — nothing like it. I especially enjoy PJ clothing at this point in time where finding comfortable, fitting clothes is more of a challenge.
12 p.m. — Trying to finish our baby registry, and it is actually very overwhelming. There are countless versions of every product, and I found myself spending 10 minutes fretting about the best kind of bib and burp cloth to get. My husband would keep me on track and move on to the next aisle. I want the best product and/or equipment for our baby, and it can be quite overwhelming with so many brands and ratings and opinions on it all!
3 p.m. — My energy level is not what it used to be, and it gets zapped a lot faster nowadays. We are on our way to my friend’s son’s first birthday party. When we get there, we are surrounded by little kids, toddlers and babies. It’s hard to believe we will be amongst the “parent crowd” with our own child in 3.5 months. So exciting and a little scary at the same time.
6 p.m. — How is it 6 o’clock already? I eat dinner with my husband as he looks at shelving units for the nursery online, and I read reviews and make comparisons about high chairs and bassinets — there’s so many.
10 p.m. — Relaxation time with my husband in the movie room with snacks. I started experiencing restless leg syndrome (common among pregnancy). This is the third time I’ve experienced it in the evening, and it is not pleasant. I just wanted to run around the house to make my legs feel better. It’s such an odd feeling; after some stretching and letting some time pass, it dissipates and I’m left with an itchy stomach and breasts. Uh-oh — another baby growth spurt? I grab the stretch cream cocoa butter. Lifesaver.
6 a.m. — Actually sleeping!
9 a.m. — Another morning of enjoying coffee and breakfast, not on the run. My husband and I are playing hooky from church as we have a long list of to-dos for today. The earlier we start, the better. Lowe’s for shelving, grocery shopping, cooking food for the week for packing lunches and cleaning the house.
12 p.m. — Lunch break and I am back to the baby registry making sure I have the right things on there and reading more reviews. I really think I need to give this a rest.
3 p.m. — Doing laundry and folding clothes — I have to sit down because I am exhausted. How is this? I am officially 26 weeks today and nearing my third trimester, so getting more tired is to be expected. I just don’t like it! Thankfully, my husband is such a big helper with house chores.
6 p.m. — Finishing up 15 minutes on the elliptical. I’m hopeful that a little light exercise will help curb RLS tonight. Even though I was tired before, I feel so much better after getting my heart rate up. Exercise has taken an interesting path since becoming pregnant. Pre-pregnancy, I would work out regularly three to four times a week for an hour. My first trimester, walking to and from the bathroom or showering was as much movement as my body wanted or could do. I felt awful. It wasn’t until week 14 that I felt more like myself. I began incorporating light exercise into my routine a little over a month ago (we’re talking going on walks and 15 to 20 minutes of exercise at home). So much different than what I was used to, but I am actually OK with it. My body is telling me what it needs and I am trying my hardest to listen to it and treat it with the utmost respect!
8 p.m. — In the kitchen making food for the week for my lunches and snacks. Momma’s gotta eat well and feed that growing baby!
10 p.m. — Baby is kicking a lot, and I love it; the kicks tell me she is active and doing well; no mommy anxiety here. My husband and I read that by this week, your baby can respond not only to sounds but touch as well. She would kick and my husband would gently push/rub on my stomach and she would respond with rhythmic movements. It was the coolest thing! Needless to say, we got to bed a little later than anticipated because of playing with our active baby. It’s special moments such as these that I will hold onto. Any anxieties or uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms fall to the wayside, and all that matters is the fact that our child is growing and healthy in my belly. She is so loved already.
"Baby is definitely growing this week, and my stretching skin is making this well-known."
6 a.m. — A dress I wore two weeks ago is suddenly too small, as my stomach popped a button. It’s crazy how fast my belly is growing! My belly button has officially hit the weird-looking stage.
9 a.m. — Baby movements are the best.
12 p.m. — Lunchtime and I am already anxiously waiting to get home. Just one of those days where I am feeling crafty and really want to work on the baby’s crib mobile. I have started making felt flowers and I’m excited to see how it will turn out — just need to spend more time on it. My lunch hour is spent eating, typing up case notes and perusing different dresses online to wear for my maternity shoot.
3 p.m. — Quick walk to the hospital cafeteria at work allows me to get my water and get in some movement away from my desk. I get very little movement during the workday, as I am typing away case notes and seeing patients. It feels good to stretch and move a bit!
6 p.m. — Making dinner and talking about our days with my husband. We’ve been discussing what we are going to do after the baby is born and I go back to work (child care, hours I work, etc.). It’s always a bit of a stressful conversation because there is a part of me that doesn’t want to go back to work and stay home with the baby, but I also know I love my job and financially, it helps our growing family. My sister gave me names of ladies she recommends to watch kids/babies. Once that time comes, you best believe I will interview the crap out of them.
8 p.m. — It’s 8 o’clock and I randomly decide to jump on the elliptical for 15 minutes because I have all this anxious energy; maybe it’s the talk about going back to work/finding a sitter or the fact I had a dinner that gave me some extra oomph of energy. Even a light 15 minutes has my stress level down and I am feeling more emotionally calm.
10 p.m. — My stomach itches like crazy! Baby is definitely growing this week, and my stretching skin is making this well-known. Relaxing with my husband eating some nighttime snacks while I mildly complain about my itching stomach skin. I’d like to bathe in a vat of cocoa butter please.
6 a.m. — Sleep wasn’t ideal last night. The multiple bathroom trips and the hip pain really throw a wrench in the “good sleep” department.
9 a.m. — Three-hour evaluation at work this morning, which means I load up on a good breakfast and go to the bathroom right before I see the patient. Unfortunately, I can’t wait a full three hours to go pee, so I end up pausing halfway through to use the restroom. Pregnancy really does a number on my bladder!
12 p.m. — Woo-hoo, lunchtime! Rather hungry today, so I’m feeling excited to eat some grub. I’m wearing leggings under my dress with a full panel that goes over my stomach. Not a fan of the full panel. I’ll stick with my non-panel/non-pregnancy leggings for now.
3 p.m. — My body is starting to feel more foreign to me as each day passes. Pregnancy is truly a beautiful thing, how your body changes, but also quite uncomfortable at times trying to get comfortable! Walking to get water and it feels a little harder than it did a month ago. I can definitely tell I am days away from my third trimester.
Counting down: Two more hours 'til I can take these clothes off and get into comfy pants and my husband’s T-shirt (mine are too small on my belly now).
6 p.m. — Fifteen minutes on the elliptical and five minutes stretching can just do so much for my endorphins and body after sitting at a desk all day. Thank goodness I can do this in the comfort of my home, as my tank top is a belly shirt and my shorts are sagging below my expanding stomach. I look quite humorous, but who cares — I’m home. Off to make dinner now. Spaghetti squash with other goodies? Yes, please.
8 p.m. — Spending some time reading about newborn sleep (the first three months) and trying to educate myself because I feel there’s much I don’t know! While reading, I came across a list of lullabies. It has been ages since I sang lullabies or even remembered the words. I typically would make up words if I sang them to my nieces. I start reading over the words and familiarizing myself to learn more. I love singing and have gotten lax on making it a priority to sing. I have a feeling once the baby comes, this will change.
10 p.m. — Watching the Cavs with my love while munching on snacks and feeling for baby movements. Tiredness hit me hard tonight, so it’s time to get to bed before I fall asleep on the couch (way too hard to get up at that point).
"It’s crazy to think how in several months, we will be having another little one joining us for dinner. Things are going to look so much different."
6 a.m. — Mediocre sleep. Per usual. No crazy pregnancy dreams, but I sure do go to the bathroom a lot.
9 a.m. — Wore heeled boots today at work and it is more challenging to walk; I can definitely tell I am carrying around a baby in my stomach, as heels are not as easy as they were even a month ago. They make me feel fancy, though, so I’ll tough it out as long as I can for the third trimester.
12 p.m. — Oh how I enjoy lunch. Although lunches entail working, it’s always something I look forward to during the workday. Plus, the baby likes it and tells me by her kicks. Have a real hankering for chocolate and thankful I packed some in my lunch. SCORE!
3 p.m. — Time to munch on some cinnamon-roasted almonds and clementines before a staff meeting at work.
6 p.m. — Dinnertime with my husband. Always enjoy this part of the day. It’s crazy to think how in several months, we will be having another little one joining us for dinner. Things are going to look so much different. I’m thankful I have such a supportive partner or the thought of having a baby would seem much more stressful.
8 p.m. — Wishing there were more hours in the day. I finished a little craft for the baby’s room that I found on Pinterest. A success! Decorating the baby’s room has been a fun process, but there is still much to do.
10 p.m. — Restless legs is creeping up on me tonight. Not a cool symptom of pregnancy. I try stretching and taking deep breaths, but not much really helps. I hear it’s normal, so I’m not worried, just bothered.
What a ride this pregnancy has been, and I know that the weeks to come will bring many more new things and feelings associated. My belly and body grow by the week, and before we know it, I will have a little girl in my arms?! Trying to savor this time of my life with my husband as I know our world is about to be rocked in about three short months. Excited and a little nervous definitely go hand in hand!
Originally posted on StyleCaster.