‘Each morning I wake up with the same thought. ‘Do I want to eat today, or do I want to feel skinny?’ I refuse my family’s offerings as they cook their eggs and pour their cereal.’

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Struggles With Disordered Eating

“Each morning I wake up with the same thought – ‘Do I want to eat today, or do I want to feel skinny?’. I refuse the offerings from my family as they cook their eggs and pour their cereal. I quietly sip my coffee and think to myself ‘If I eat, I’m instantly going to feel fat’. It’s about a two-hour struggle with fear and lies about my body before I realize that I’m actually starving. So, I fix myself some breakfast and eat.

I’ve struggled with weight and body image my entire life. In high school I tipped the scale at 200 – eating ranch, bagels, and rotel cheese dip like it was going out of style – and in college I dipped down to 115 – eating *maybe* one meal a day and immediately following it up with a handful of laxatives and a night of binge drinking. Both done in the unhealthiest of ways and I was never happy. No matter what I did I never felt good enough. I never felt worthy of love and affection. I never felt content with who I was as a woman.

Young woman who struggles with body image sits smiling in black tank top
Courtesy Emily Faith Hall

Then, I met my husband in January of 2011. He saved me, in a sense. We dated for two years while I was in college, engaged for one year, and then we got married in the summer of 2015, after I graduated. He helped pull me out of my eating disorder and into a world full of love, acceptance, and Jesus. I was a healthy 135 lbs. or so when we got married and I was happy with that. Sure, I wasn’t perfect and there were still things I wanted to change about myself, but overall, I liked who I was at the weight I was.

Bride with eating disorder stands outside holding groom's hand
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Husband and wife with eating disorder stands arm in arm in bathing suits at beach
Courtesy Emily Faith Hall

Becoming A Mom

And then I got pregnant and delivered our first child 5 days before our one-year anniversary in June of 2016 – a beautiful baby girl weighing in at 7lbs 6oz.

Pregnant woman with eating disorder stands holding stomach with husband beside body of water
JSK Images

I gained 30+ pounds during that first pregnancy and only lost 15 pounds after.

Sixteen months later I found out I was pregnant with our second child – a boy – who was then born in June of 2018.

Pregnant woman with eating disorder stands smiling beside husband who holds their young daughter
Sydney Prince Photography

Motherhood And A New Body

I gained 40+ pounds during my second pregnancy and only lost about 10 pounds after.

Having a baby is seriously one of the coolest experiences a woman can go through; it can also be the most challenging. Not only do we have to grow a human inside of our bodies, but we have to do it for 40 excruciating weeks. The sweet little kicks help, but there comes a point when you’re just freaking over it. You can’t sleep. Eating gives you heartburn. Everything hurts. You’re done. But wait, there’s more. Now you have to go through hell that is labor and delivery. And forget about sleep for the next year.

Again, coolest thing ever, but also so. damn. hard.

Praise Jesus for epidurals.
Shout out to all you ladies doing it natural.
And my C-section sisters, you’re a badass. Ya feel me?

As a woman, I’m extremely proud that my body and my body alone was able to keep my babies healthy, on the inside, for 9 months. I’m also extremely proud that my body and my body alone was able to endure hours of labor and successfully push out two little humans. It’s amazing. Our bodies are amazing. All the Glory to God for the miracle of life.

But, as a woman who has going through two pregnancies, I am not proud of my postpartum body.

I look in the mirror and all I see is a body that I don’t recognize. I see a body that used to be a size 2 and is now a size 12. I see lumps and rolls in places that didn’t used to be there. When I run my fingers across my stretch marks I cringe and wish I could just run them away. I’m ashamed of my thighs, legs, and arms – they are twice the size they used to be and the jiggle like a bowl full of Jell-O.

Mother with eating disorder sits in chair holding newborn with her stomach exposed to show stretch marks
JSK Images

This can’t be MY body.

The thing about becoming a mother is that nobody really tells you about how hard it’s going to be. Like, hi it would have been nice if someone had let me know I’d be wearing diapers for 2 weeks. You can go to all the prenatal classes you want to, and read all the baby books, but nothing prepares you for motherhood like the real thing. No one can get you ready for the moment when you’re pushing and the doctor yells ‘STOP!’ because your baby’s heart rate keeps dropping with each push. No one lets you know that your postpartum hormones are from Satan himself, leaving you crying day after day and begging your husband to not go to work. No one tells you how freaking hard breastfeeding is or that pumping makes you feel like a prisoner and it can leave you feeling depressed.

And no one tells you just how foreign your body is going to feel to you postpartum – the squishy pooch that is still there, your massive leaky boobs, the extra weight that didn’t magically disappear after birth. It ain’t pretty. It’s not what I’m used to. And most of the time I want to just hide behind loose fitting clothing and baseball caps.

Finding Your Worth

Society tells us women that we are *supposed to magically lose the baby weight and ‘bounce back’ the minute our child enters the world. This is pure crap. If you have had a baby, you know good and well that you’re going to be rocking a 6-month pooch for a while. Society tells us that being a size 2 is what you *need* to be to be considered ‘beautiful’. Again, screw that. I’ve been a size 2 and I’ve been a size 12. A pant size does not define you. Society tells us what we should be eating, drinking, and wearing in order to feel accepted – just because Kourtney Kardashian eats a salad every day doesn’t mean I have to.

Screw society.

I get it. Our bodies feel strange to us after giving birth. They’re softer that’s for dang sure. But, instead of focusing on how my body looks, I’d rather think about what it has done. It was able to house two sweet children, it was able to deliver those babies into this world, and it is able to keep going even when it is tired. My postpartum body is incredible.

My worth is not a number on the scale.

My worth is not a smaller pant size.

My worth is not a flatter tummy.

My worth is not a thigh gap.

My value, YOUR value sweet Mama, begins with the fact that you were created by the hand of our Almighty God. You are cherished in His heart. He loves you no matter what your body looks like. He loves you even when you don’t love yourself. Your worth is found in Jesus.

Eat the freaking cookies.
Drink all the wine.
Love your beautiful postpartum body.”

Mother with eating disorder who has gained weight stands in sports bra and leggings holding baby
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Faith Hall of Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her website hereSubmit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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