Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Skinny Pregnancy

I've gone back and forth on whether to write a blog about this because it's such a sensitive subject for me, but at the end of the day, I'm hoping I can help someone else just like me because I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Let me start by saying that I've never had any eating disorders (just a lot of allergies!) and my body has always had a super fast metabolism that just can't be tamed. Since I've been an adult, I've been a primarily healthy eater and ate fish, fruits, and vegetables regularly, as well as took my daily gummy multi-vitamin. I'm allergic to gluten and dairy and my body has always had issues if I eat too much meat. I'm a light eater with a sensitive stomach and I've always done better with smaller portion sizes throughout the day (or drawn-out multiple course meals) rather than three big meals. It's always been challenging but over the years, I've managed to figure out foods that work for me...and my brilliant chef husband always finds ways to slip me extra calories with loads of olive oil and other hidden ingredients in my dishes.

June 2013 at 85 lbs
I'm 5'0 and never weighed more than 85 lbs in my life, not for lack of trying! Back in August 2013, however, I ended up with food poisoning and a stomach parasite that led to me being unable to stomach food for about five months. During this time, I dropped to 75 lbs and I was scared out of my mind. I woke up nightly panicking about my low weight and what all of the BMI information said online. I felt awful, had dizzy spells regularly, and was worried that my body was failing me.

December 2013, with my hubby and sister while I was ill at 75 lbs
However, after a round with antibiotics in January of 2014, I began to eat normally again. Of course, even so, my body, which took about four years to get from 78 lbs to 85 lbs (thanks to my chef hubby!), wasn't jumping up in weight at all. No matter what I ate, I still remained at 75 lbs. The most unhealthy part of this weight for me wasn't the weight itself in the end, it was the mindset I put myself in. Online articles would say how unhealthy my weight was and people would look at me stunned if I told them. I convinced myself I was unhealthy, despite the fact that I was now eating three healthy meals a day, with snacks in between, and on any day I didn't think about it, I felt fine. I looked thin but I didn't look frail anymore and I wasn't malnourished. I was the same weight I was when I was sick, but my body was now getting the nutrition it needed and felt fine...One of the worst parts of searching online for information was reading that women with such low BMI's can have trouble having children.

My hubby and I, at 75 lbs and healthy again, during Thanksgiving 2014
This year, I learned that BMI and health are all relative and being naturally "underweight" doesn't matter if you're taking care of yourself and getting the nutrition your body needs.

In February, my husband and I found out we were going to being having our very first child! We were instantly over the moon with excitement. Within days, I began looking up online everything I needed to do and what to expect during my pregnancy. Unfortunately, my google searching led me to all the data I longed to avoid reading - the dangers of having a low BMI during pregnancy. The thing that all of these sites leave out is that a seriously low BMI with a body you take care of and is just naturally low is vastly different than a malnourished body. First I read that having a BMI as low as mine meant trouble conceiving because your body is apparently too unhealthy. This was definitely untrue in my case. Then the articles continued with information that scared me for months. Supposedly, my chances of miscarriage were enormous or at the very least, I was destined to have a micro-premie or premie baby.

During my morning sickness, I dropped to 72 lbs and panicked daily about how I was going to gain the necessary weight this pregnancy. After all, my weight was already so "dangerously low" and now I couldn't eat again. After the first trimester passed, I began getting plenty of food cravings and eating. Still, I eat in what I call "Justine size" portions. Other people might think it was a small amount of food for a pregnant lady but I felt pretty stuffed after my meals. Over time, I started to gain weight and as the months passed, I realized all of the problems I read I'd have, weren't actually happening. In fact, as my parents and husband love to say, I was a textbook pregnancy! Every symptom I had fell in line with exactly when it was supposed to happen according to the books! When I finally found a doctor after months of searching, I went into my first appointment at 80 lbs. I was again terrified that I'd go into the doctor's office and be belittled about my weight. To my surprise, she never mentioned a thing. I looked healthy, I felt healthy, and the baby was growing fine.

This weekend, at 38 weeks and 6 days (at my final weight of 92 lbs), I gave birth to a healthy 5 lbs 14 oz baby boy. I didn't gain 40 lbs as the pregnancy websites suggest for "underweight" women but I feel and felt fantastic (other than every normal pregnancy symptom in the book and now postpartum soreness!), my baby grew perfectly well, and I feel like I'm starting this new chapter of my life with an entirely new outlook on myself and my health. What you weigh is all relative and has no true representation of how healthy your body is. How you take care of your body is what matters and don't let anyone tell you different. The key to health isn't the number on the scale, it's having a healthy mindset and taking care of yourself.

Baby Belly at 34.5 weeks, and 90 lbs!
When I first became pregnant, I searched and searched for an article about someone who was super skinny during their pregnancy and had a healthy outcome. All I found were the horror stories. I really hope now that I've written this, that anyone in a similar situation to me can now find a story that makes them feel good about themselves, their body, and their pregnancy. At the end of the day, all those articles taught me was that an unhealthy body can't cope with pregnancy. And that's how I now know...my body is perfectly healthy. :)