Fat Kid Goggles

~Aly

Throwback and Rewind

Growing up, I had lots of friends from all different types of cliques. I was smart and high-achieving, which landed me with a group of friends at school that were perfectionistic intellectuals. I was also creative, loud, and dramatic, which landed me in classes like chorus, show choir, and drama. In these classes, I had like-minded friends, where the drama and theatrics were real intense, but the laughs were just as resounding. I was athletic, growing up playing soccer, basketball, and softball throughout the year, changing sports with the changing season. My teammates were my friends as we created a kinship through knowing that we had to work together and have each other’s backs. I also had what I called my neighborhood friends, where we didn’t necessarily have much in common beyond being bored and wanting to ride bikes, watch MTV, and play sidewalk chalk together (clearly during different stages of adolescence), but we somehow bonded and found common ground exploring our neighborhood and creating chaos in the lakes that centered our quiet Miami-suburbia.

In these groups, I also always felt like the fat friend. Yes, I was athletic and I was active. I worked out every day for whatever sport was in season. I spent little time sitting in front of the tv and lots of time on the go, but I was certainly still built differently than my peers were.

No one specifically told me I was fat, but subtle situations or comments made me feel it. I knew that my clothes were probably 2 sizes larger than my friends and let it impact how I viewed myself. I took it to heart when a family member would tell me things about dieting, even before I was a teenager. I felt sad when I was told to suck it in for a picture. And I felt ostracized when someone would comment on how great that skinny girl looked and would later comment on how a larger girl needed to choose a more flattering outfit that hid her curves.

I put on fat kid goggles and saw myself through that lens. Looking back, I was in actuality not as large as I perceived myself to be, but the mind was a powerful influencer, especially during adolescence.

My younger years

This didn’t make me feel terrible about myself overall, but it certainly had its influence on my own self-perception. My self-efficacy was high. I knew I could accomplish anything I put my mind to and felt successful as I tended to do well at whatever I tried to do. My self-confidence was a bit more malleable. I thought I was my own kind of beautiful, but certainly never felt like I was at a weight I was happy with. I always found something on my body to be unhappy with.

At the end of middle school, I got really into soccer. I practiced on my own, went on runs around my neighborhood, and was in fantastic shape. I was still thicker than my friends and teammates, but I was solid. I felt like I was rocking my look and my confidence started soaring, as I was soaking up the compliments from friends and family alike.

Then, suddenly, while working out harder than I had in my life, my weight started to explode. I gained 40 pounds in a short period of time, without explanation. I had heavy, long period flows. I had black spots show up on my neck and in between my breasts. My diet was good, I was running daily, how could I gain weight?! What were these other symptoms? What was happening to me? As an adolescent, I was devastated and wanted to hide.

Doctors didn’t have answers to these questions. My mom spent over a year taking me to different specialists, running all kinds of labs, and all without explanation. At that time, no one really knew what PCOS was. It wasn’t like it is now, where many people at least know someone who is diagnosed, but we finally got to the moment where a pediatric endocrinologist was able to offer a name to the symptoms. The treatments were really hard on my 14 year old body, but I at least understood that my body was going to work differently than my peers. It was going to be easier to gain weight and harder to lose weight, due to the way my body would process insulin in accordance with my PCOS diagnosis.

Fast Forward

My weight got out of control during my mid-twenties, as I dealt with coming out, family health issues, death of my grandfather (which felt like the death of my father), graduate school, and teaching. This placed me in a state of heightened emotional stress, not to mention that I also just loved food, and resulted in me making terrible food choices based on what made me feel better emotionally, not physically. If you followed my journey previously, you know that the road to pregnancy was spent first with two years of weight loss, due to these decisions.

The work to get healthy was hard. I missed eating what I wanted and there were many times where I didn’t want to go to the gym. But every time I went farther on the elliptical or lost another pound, the sense of accomplishment was profound. 50 pounds down by the end made me feel like I was doing amazing. Sure, I was still obese, but I felt confident and healthier than I ever had as an adult. I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. I felt sexy, even with any stomach rolls I still had.

If you followed my journey, you also know how badly I wanted to be pregnant. I wanted to be a mom desperately, yes, but I yearned for that pregnant belly. I wanted to look at my bump and rub it. I wanted to feel my child kicking inside of me.

What I didn’t expect was the paradox that would soon follow upon my big fat positive pregnancy result. I look at my twin pregnancy body and feel astounded. I feel strong. Look at what my amazing, female body can do. Look at how my skin stretches, my womb grows, my breasts change. Look at how I lay here and make 2 sets of eyeballs. How does it know how to do that? Yes, I’m a powerful woman and I feel that pride when I see the changes taking place over the past 7 months.

The paradox- I also feel very upset when I look into the mirror right now. The fat kid goggles come back. I look at this huge belly and my see that my legs look bigger and I instantly feel like I need to cover up again, like I once used to feel. I instantly feel the urge to suck in my stomach, but that trick clearly doesn’t work right now. It doesn’t matter that logically I know that I’m growing two humans. The illogical side of my brain takes over.

I see other women taking pictures of their bump without shirts on over it. I see people take bump casts to remember what their amazing body did. I envy them. I can’t do it. Despite the fact that I’m fairly confident that my wife has never found me to be more appealing than I am right now, these thoughts remain true. The thing with body issues is it’s really about how you see yourself, not how others see you.

I hope I can get there. I hope I can take off my fat kid goggles. I hope I can lose those goggles for good for my own mental health and to be a better role model with body positivity for my children. I am working on how to embrace my body soon before it’s all over and these babies are born, especially since I’m pretty sure that this will be my only pregnancy, since kids and the process for lesbians to get pregnant, are so expensive. I hope that I can at least take a picture without a shirt, even if just for myself, and feel proud that this rounding body is making life and is something to be proud of.

Mission: Albrecht Baby

~Aly~

Going Back Before We Move Forward

It has been longer than intended since our last blog post. Truth be told, I’ve been processing and slightly procrastinating. We have a lot happening at once, between new events in our fertility journey to general adulting tasks to take care of. Since our last post, we went back to see the reproductive endocrinologist.

Our thoughts before our fertility appointment

Ultimately, the discussion with the doctor, while positive on our conception outlook, wasn’t exactly what we were expecting (maybe it was a bit of what I was expecting). To give me time to taper off certain medications that I can’t be on while pregnant, the doctor pushed our timeline back by a month. This, on its own, is not earth shattering. Delays happen during doctor-led pregnancy missions all the time. (I’ve lovingly been referring to ours as Mission: Albrecht Baby). The more challenging portion of our discussion was that the doctor felt that I should get on the Whole30 diet to help me transition off my medication, which is related to digestion issues. She further felt that it would help continue to boost our chances of conceiving, as it boosts metabolism and improves egg quality.

Whole Diet Changing

I had previously seen friends go on the whole30 diet and always thought, “Well, that’s great for them, but there’s no way I’m getting involved in that craziness.” I already had made major changes to my diet. Now, I have to make more?

My relationship with food hasn’t always been the healthiest and weight is something that I’ve always struggled with. But once we got on the baby journey in January 2018, I knew that I was going to have to make changes to how I approached food daily because I wanted to try my best to have a healthy pregnancy. Never before have I had such a motivator. This wasn’t about fitting into a smaller size or looking better in a bathing suit (although both would be nice). This was ensuring that I would be able to produce a healthy baby. It has taken time and there have certainly been ups and downs, but I have lost 50 pounds. Whenever I thought about giving up, I thought about being a mom. So, now I find myself at a crossroads. As difficult as it has been to make these lifestyle changes, my doctor was now asking me to make more. After coming so far, was I going to really stop here and give up? No way.

For those of you who don’t know much about it, the Whole30 diet is quite intense. No grains. No added sugars of any kind. No dairy. No beans. No peanut butter. No preservatives. I would like to point out that this covers the majority of the grocery store. It’s a strange day when you look at milk longingly, but it’s definitely happening. So, what can I have? Fruits, vegetables, spices, and proteins that have not been processed. This seemed so limiting to me and I knew that even beyond the temptation, that this would require a lot of work. There would be a lot less take out and delivery. As I cried, while ruminating over how my life was going to change even more, Tiffany held my hand and said she would join me on the diet. She assured me that we would tackle this the way we’ve always done everything, together.

Trader Joes Virgins

I spent several days after our doctor appointment doing all kinds of research on the diet. The diet normally only lasts 30 days, but in our case should be followed at least through conception. It feels more like WholeForever. Quickly, through the magic of Pinterest, I found that Trader Joes had all kinds of products that were Whole30 approved. The planner in me kept planning and found recipes that looked like things I could stomach. If we were going to do this, then I was going to go all in. Side note: if you have a Trader Joes near you, and you haven’t been yet, GO! I cannot believe how amazing it is and we have been pleasantly surprised about the prices. I will say that Tiffany yells profanities every single time we leave there because she feels so bamboozled by Publix prices. It’s a bright spot in my day that always makes me laugh, even when I’m up to my ears in spinach, instead of Oreos.

Since we started this our lives have been even more run by schedules. We have lots of meal planning, meal prepping, more dishes (which is something that take out doesn’t make you do), and just general craziness. I’ve eaten more fruits and vegetables in these past two weeks than I have, well… ever.

Perfection is Overrated

We have not always been perfect, but every day we get up and give our best effort to do right that day. I suppose that’s a lot like parenting. Hard as shit. Messing up even though you’re trying. Feeling guilty about messing up. Trying again, and again, but knowing through it all that in the end it will all be worth it. Until then, I’ll just keep dreaming about bring home our baby one day, while I snack on some more mango. Yum!