Plus-sized and pregnant: "How I learned to love my body."

As far back as I can remember, my mother would comment about how her girls were lucky. We wouldn’t endure our parents’ weight struggles. Then puberty hit and my luck ran out — or so I believed.

My parents tried their best to instil confidence within me, but growing up a fat girl in southern California was challenging. While I’m quite certain kids everywhere are mean, I was bullied a lot in school. I was touched, but never loved. I deeply believed that I should be ashamed of my body.

On the cusp of my 19th birthday, I moved to Colorado on my own. I was craving something beyond the plastic utopia where I grew up. Years passed by, but not a lot changed.

Jen and her son.

It took me a long time to realise the main bully I was trying to escape was actually me. I saw her each time I looked in the mirror. The girl I tormented.

I’ll never forget the night I wanted McDonald's but was on a random radical diet for the hundredth time. As I returned home from the drive-thru, I was so mad at myself. I proceeded to strip naked and ate my food sitting in front of a full-length closet mirror. It was my punishment. Many of the details escape me, but I will forever remember one thing — how sad and desperate I appeared.

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Things became a little better as I allowed myself to be loved by a wonderful man. He adored me, but I still couldn't feel the same way about myself.

We became engaged when I was 28. As we were planning our wedding, I taped a sign to my office door — "Please do not feed the bride." At the time I thought it was funny. I now realise it was as equally destructive as eating McDonald’s naked in front of a mirror.

Following our wedding, I had a deep desire to become a mother. I also felt pressure to lose a significant amount of weight.

I wanted to get pregnant and lose weight.

Two months after my 30th birthday, my husband and I were thrilled to find out I was expecting. Like most new mums-to-be, I jumped on the Internet. I signed up for weekly updates telling me what kind of fruit my baby compared to in size. I also Googled "plus-size and pregnant." To my dismay, I read that I would develop gestational diabetes and have a C-section. Essentially, large women are horrible people for wanting to become mothers. The internet was far crueler than the bullies of my childhood.


I made the decision to not allow those negative messages set the tone for my pregnancy. I promised myself I would not become a statistic. Water aerobics quickly became an obsession, and I ate healthy food that made my body feel good. I started falling in love with the little baby growing within me — and also with my body. Even though I started to feel this remarkable shift, I secretly kept waiting for my body to fail.

"I was waiting for my body to fail me."

After a completely healthy pregnancy, my water unexpectedly broke three weeks early. For 16 hours, my body and mind danced together. With every contraction I could feel the tension in my body increasing. I worked hard to let go, and surrender to that. When it came time for me to start pushing, I knew I had to mentally let go — I had to trust my body and myself.

I took a deep breath and fully relinquished control. My body knew exactly what to do! I gave birth on my knees to my son, straight into my husband’s hands. I immediately felt an indescribable level of happiness the first moment I held my perfect baby boy. My body didn’t fail me. My body was magnificent!

I am no longer ashamed of a body that can do something so extraordinary. It took me 30 years to come to this realisation.

My body is amazing and there is no looking back.

This post originally appeared on Ravishly.

What was your biggest struggle when you were pregnant?

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