There's a prevailing narrative in our society that once our baby arrives, our priorities must shift. They must shift from caring for ourselves to caring for our baby. The narrative is that we must serve and we must sacrifice. We must gloss over our own needs. We must tone down the activities we do for ourselves. Because if we don't, then we are selfish. Then we will be seen as self-absorbed and self-involved, and people will assume we don't love our children enough.
Almost two years ago, my daughter was born, several days after a hurricane hit our town. Even though my water broke, and I was given Pitocin to induce labor, I still had to have a C-section. I had a fantastic doctor, and a complication-free recovery.
When we think about dealing with our eating or body issues, we might feel overwhelmed. Maybe we've been in this same spot before, finally fed up with following food rules, only to get back on some diet or "meal plan." Maybe we still cling to the idea that thinness will bring joy. Maybe we don't know where to start. Maybe we worry we're in wayyy too deep, and we'll never be able to eat without fear, to not yearn for weight loss.
Today, we watch what we eat. We follow meal plans. We don't do dairy (or gluten or sugar). We wait to eat what we truly want until it's "cheat day." We weigh ourselves weekly or daily. We stick to rigid calorie counts or points or macros. We try the latest diet fad (no matter how extreme). We eat zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta and pretend cauliflower is the same as rice or mashed potatoes.
How many times have you stayed absolutely silent when someone hurt your feelings, when someone crossed the line? How many times have you ignored a behavior because you didn't want the discomfort of a disagreement? How many times have you tried to convince yourself that you weren't upset and you weren't angry?
How often do you feel like your body is a separate entity, an entity that you don't really have a relationship with? It's as though you're complete strangers inhabiting the same space. I think of Nicole Krauss's description of a broken relationship in her novel Great House: "We were two people locked in our antigravity suits who happened to be orbiting around the same pieces of his mother's old furniture. And then he drifted off, through some loophole in our apartment, to an unreachable part of the cosmos."
Going through a high-risk pregnancy can be nerve-racking. You might be stressed out for all sorts of reasons. You might feel like your body is failing both you and your child. You might feel helpless and maybe hopeless.