Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.
By Quinn Nystrom, MS
This spring, I discovered that I was expecting my first baby (I’m already a proud Mom to two incredible stepdaughters). The news came as a beautiful surprise. My husband and I had been on a couple-year journey of infertility.
In May, I was told by my OB to pick up my first round of fertility medications at the pharmacy, but first, I had to take a pregnancy test. My heart sank, feeling that it would just be another negative test. Imagine my shock when it said, “PREGNANT”! I burst into tears. Having lived with bulimia and type 1 diabetes for 25 years, I didn’t know if this day would happen. Now that it had, I was embarking on a new road of pregnancy, and all that comes with that.
Things that I’ve learned in the past five months of pregnancy:
1. People’s unsolicited advice. I remember telling a group of ladies that I was pregnant. A woman said, “I thought you were losing weight, but that fat band around your belly shows you’re pregnant.” I thought that it was rude to tell someone, pregnant or not. Why are physical appearance comments ok to people now just because I tell them I’m pregnant? If it’s not ok to tell someone when they’re not pregnant, don’t think you can now that they’re expecting.
2. Our culture’s obsession with bump size. I was given those monthly stickers to document my belly-growing journey. I knew this would trigger me, so I donated the stickers and decided this didn’t have to be part of my journey. Just because many women are comfortable posting pregnant belly photos on social media doesn’t mean I need to.
3. Ensuring that I have a medical team around me that is eating disorder informed. Even though I consider myself in recovery from bulimia, there are many things in pregnancy that can be triggering for me. There’s much focus on weight gain, physical appearance, nutrition, etc. I need a team that understands my past and is sensitive to OB appointments.
4. You can nix the traditional baby shower games that make you uncomfortable! Two of my best friends are hosting baby showers for me. I know they intend to have the baby and I feel loved and cared for. When we talked about the showers, I made it clear to them the games I wouldn’t be comfortable with. One: having guests pick the amount of toilet paper depending on my belly size. No, thank you. Two: guessing my baby’s weight or how much I’ve gained in pregnancy.
5. Pregnancy doesn’t have to be a magical time purely. I think there is a lot of pressure in our culture that everything is just supposed to be so special when you become pregnant. The truth is, I struggled in the first trimester with terrible nausea, vomiting, and exhaustion. It wasn’t fun, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Also, living with type 1 diabetes and bulimia and being pregnant is a lot of work. I must constantly think about everything that impacts my blood sugar not to harm my baby. I learned in DBT many years ago that two things that can be wholly opposed can be true simultaneously. Yes, I’m so grateful to be pregnant, and there are some fun moments, but at the same time, pregnancy is tough and can be demanding physically and mentally.
My most significant piece of advice for anyone pregnant or considering getting pregnant: be honest with your support people. Keeping secrets made me the most sick in my darkest moments of an eating disorder. I now know my triggers much better, and I also know how to express myself to a loved one or my therapist. I can’t wait to meet our baby this winter and know that all the hard work and anguish will be worth it. Pregnancy is beautiful, but it’s also challenging. Hang in there, friend, and know that many other women are going through similar experiences.