And Now I’m Five Years Fatter

Going through a crisis pregnancy at age 32 was weird. In May of 2013, I abruptly left my life in Minnesota behind to be with a man in Tennessee. It was a pretty (ugly) sordid affair, and ultimately left me pregnant and alone later that year.

It was the most painful time of my life, and it was horrible. I’ve never known as deep, dark, or deadly depression as I experienced during those prenatal and postpartum months.

For a long time, it seemed impossible to believe that life could ever get better. I felt as if I had given everything and lost it all.

And yet? Here I am, in 2019. Next week, my daughter turns 5-years-old, and we’re having her birthday party on the following Saturday.

This year, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed because five is a huge milestone. And 5 is filled with emotion for me. My daughter is 5, and I’m still fatter than I was when I was pregnant. For that, I feel a wave of mixed emotion.

God, I was so worried that I would never be able to love a child. Back in my worst depression, I felt certain that I could never love anyone as much as I loved my daughter’s father.

But it was actually love for my daughter that saved me from her dad’s toxic pull. Not too long after her second birthday, I found myself frustrated and disgusted with his lack of concern when I updated him about our daughter’s physical and speech therapy.

My love for her let me see my ex in an unfiltered light. And now I love her so much more than I ever loved another person. I already love deeply, but love for my daughter has changed me.

I love her deep questions, and the way she has no shame in loving me. Giant bear hugs, co-sleeping, and big belly laughs make us two peas in a pod. I used to be afraid that my life as a single mom would mean I resented my child, but love stepped in to help our life feel much less like a chore.

Ultimately? This life is hard, but it feels like love.

Every year since we’ve been back in Tennessee, I throw a pretty nice party for my daughter. I set aside money for months to have it at a cool venue in Chattanooga where they decorate and handle a big chunk of the work for you.

That means I (in theory) get to enjoy the party without too much stress. Take photos without worrying about running the whole show.

To be honest, these birthday parties are a point of pride. I’m not just proud of my sweet daughter. I’m proud of us. I’m proud of myself. Just 5 years ago, I had no partner, no money, no job, no home, and a baby on the way.

The fact that I have survived so much darkness and can now throw these parties (that I never could have had growing up) means a lot to me.

Last year, my daughter’s birthday party was kind of scary, because my income went dramatically downhill and I feared homelessness again. But this year, I’m earning a better income doing what I love. How can I not feel proud of that?

Every single birthday for my daughter reminds me that I’m fatter than I used to be. There’s no way around that. Every year, once I start planning for her birthday in April, my mind inevitably goes to crash diets.

Crash diets? I’ve done them all. But over these past 5 years, I haven’t stuck to one long enough to make any headway on my weight.

So it’s only natural that I also associate my daughter’s birthday with my failure. My failure to manage my own stress or sadness. Failure to bring my body into some sort of control.

I can’t help but feel intense shame when I see my ex and his new family. He’s told me before that I should get gastric bypass surgery in Mexico because that’s what his wife did. And his wife has dumped her old fat clothes on me with no warning or thought to ask if I even wanted them.

To add to that shame, pretty much anyone who has decided they don’t like me over the past 5 years has decided to mock my weight.

I have lost more than 100 pounds twice in my life, so why haven’t I done it again? Every year that my daughter’s birthday rolls around, I feel horrible regret that I haven’t lost weight.

Becoming a mother has been wonderfully hard, frightening, amazing, and everything so many people say. And I feel like a failure of a mother when I’m ashamed of my own body, when people tell me my daughter will be embarrassed for me, and when people suggest I can’t raise a healthy child.

I feel regret for not being where I “should” be. For not having all of my shit together. Somehow I feel regret for even being a single mom. It doesn’t even matter that there’s no need for me to have these regrets. That regrets don’t serve me well.

They’re there. I feel them. And I can’t separate these feelings from my daughter’s birthday.

Dare I let myself feel a slight twinge of hope? To be honest, I do. I want to be unashamed in my ability to get my hopes up. If I’m doing better this year, here’s hoping that next year might be better too.

Besides, I am slowly taking steps when it comes to this body and my weight. I can’t even remember the last time I had a binge. Can’t remember the last time I ate emotionally.

Tiny steps of progress as I head into my daughter’s birthday week.

Is that progress? I’d say so.

For about 5 years now, I have been fatter than I ever imagined I could be. And I suppose some people find it funny or weird that I write about that. As if my fatness is something to get over or quit talking about. As if it’s as simple as saying, “I’m sick of this.”

And then drop the weight.

No, I suspect I will be writing a lot more about life around 400 pounds. Because obesity is complicated, and having lipedema complicates my body even more.

People need to talk about such things without the fear of ridicule.

Let’s just be honest.

Some of the biggest milestones are filled with a world of conflicting emotions.

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And Now I’m Five Years Fatter

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