Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mirror, mirror

Me and baby Braden, 1999.
I remember what it was like to be the fat girl in school.  I remember moving to Utah and making friends with a girl who approached me with quite the opening line: "Do people tell you that you're fat?"  I was nine and so quick to forgive.  We played together on the playground that afternoon.  She introduced me to jump rope and I hesitated because I couldn't jump well and I. . . jiggled.  I offered to just twirl the beaded cord.  In a few days the other girls encouraged me to try a simple rhyme.  They said I could stand by the rope and tell them when I was ready for them to swing it around.  They knew how to jump in with the continuous beat of each twirl.  I did not.  Eventually, they taught me.  I loved to jump rope.  But I hated that I jiggled.

I remember being followed in the halls by a boy who lived in the neighborhood.  I remember him yelling at me, calling me fat and ugly.  I went to my teacher crying and related to her what had transpired.  She told me to just ignore him.  I learned to ignore a lot of other people too.

I remember school pictures.  Students, so proud of their smiles and eyes, passed out picture of themselves to classmates.  I didn't.  I was not proud of my rolls or my chins.

I moved on from the elementary traditions and stepped into junior high.  I was a seventh grader who got stuck with the eighth grade lunch slot-- no friends.  I ate lunch in the bathroom.  I was so ashamed to be seen eating by my peers, even peers I didn't know.  I was afraid of judgment and rejection.  By eighth grade, I quit taking my lunch altogether, willing to wait 'til I got home to eat.  I hated looking into the mirror.  I hated my body.  I hated that my friends were naturally skinny while I worked so hard and remained tubby.

The summer before ninth grade I started exercising and reducing my portions.  I lost thirty pounds before the school year began.  Boys started to like me, I had more confidence, and people were nicer.  I threw away my fat pants and swore I'd never go back.  While my weight fluctuated with in a ten pound range over the years, I never did go back.

But I'm creeping toward that number now.  Every month, the scale confirms it.  I know I'm carrying a baby.  I know I'm suppose to gain weight.  But I feel ashamed of the way I look.  I feel stared at and judged.  People keep asking me when I'm going to start looking pregnant.  I hate that.  I wish my belly was round and beautiful like everyone thinks it should be, but it's not.  It's lumpy, uneven, and divided in two.  Hard baby on bottom, squishy fat on top with a crease in the middle where my belly button stinks in.

I try to remind myself how amazing this body is.  It has carried my daughter so far, complication free.  I've thrown-up, eaten cases of ramen, worked twelve hour shifts at a very physical job, hiked to classes and back, moved to a new apartment, and this amazing body has kept my little miracle safe and healthy.  These changes are the battle scars of motherhood and I should celebrate their arrival.

But I wonder if I'll ever feel pretty again.  I wonder if I'll ever feel comfortable and confident snuggled up to my handsome husband like I use too.

I hope so.  I really do.


  1. Oh dear, I hope I wasn't that friend who said you were fat. Maybe that was before you moved to our neighborhood.

    I've heard that many women don't have that pregnant look on their first pregnancy.

    If you're working a physical job and hiking to classes then you're probably gaining a minimal amount of weight. And if you were able to lose 30 lbs in a summer then you'll probably be good at losing pregnancy weight as well.


  2. http://tessahatchett.blogspot.com/2010/09/beautiful-inside-and-out.html

  3. When you were small you were such a...stubborn...headstrong...determined little girl. I would tell people, "If I ever get that child pointed in the right direction there will be no stopping her." Well, somehow you did get pointed in the right direction, perhaps in spite of me. And now my little girl has moved beyoond stubborn, headstrong and determined and become VALIANT. Believe me when I say...If you decide you want that comfortable feeling back, it is already coming!

  4. Thanks for the sweet sentiments. They made me cry. . . in the computer lab at school. Embarrassing! But thanks!

    Alissa: It wasn't you. No worries. It was before I moved into your neighborhood. And I'll tell Paul to take some pictures of me so I'll have something to post.

  5. kayla this is ashlyn i love your blog! you know what little cutie when i was at good earth i used to think " i wish i was like kayla" your ARE beautiful and that belly carrying that baby is beautiful no matter what shape it takes! haha love you girl

  6. hiya. i love you. I can relate to this ALL OF IT. It's part of my pregnancy that i just didn't expect. I am six years recovered from my eating disorder but i really did get hard when the scale went up. all in all I gained 55 lbs. but now i'm 5 weeks post partum and i'm already down 35. it's hard though because your belly is really like a bowl full of jelly and all stretched out after. its these things you don't hear about til after you have them. my skin is destroyed. i have a zillion stretch marks that now make my skin look saggy and wrinkly now that i'm shrinking down to normal. it's wrecked. its been hard. i didn't count on how hard this body image stuff would be. I look at my stomach and feel that it was heroic for stretching from 31 inches below my belly button to 54 inches before i gave birth. even telling myself all the stuff that i know i should say to myself its still hard. honestly. i'm saying this so you know that no matter what you have ahead of you that i'm here and you can tell me anything honestly. just try to take as good of care of yourself now while you are growing her because when she's here its a level of exhaustion you cannot imagine. and the emotions are intense. i'm saying that so you know that all these feelings are all just a part of what toughens us up to be mothers i guess. no matter what though our bodies are extraordinary machines and i know i'll get back somewhat close to where i was before but with these battle scars that prove that my body was heroic and grew a big healthy baby boy. he's sleeping right now getting ready to keep me up all night. :) cant' wait to talk to you when she's here and you feel the level of cracked out you get too with zero sleep. its amazing though holding my little guy and getting watch him as he figures out the world - so helpless and innocent. he's so trusting and dependent on me. i love him so much. when i feel especially bad i just hold him until i feel better. he's an excellent snuggler. all that makes it so much more than worth it. xx

  7. So your comment about how you wish you had the perfect baby bump made me think of someone I saw walking past the store where I work the other day. Her baby bump actually looked like she had put a beach ball up under her shirt... it kinda freaked me out how spherical it was : )