I started my family journey with a tiny size 6-8 figure, although I felt much bigger.
Perhaps it was the teenage years filled with photos of much skinnier girls and being told to be more like them and less like me.
Or maybe it was the insecurities I saw the women around me had about their own bodies.
Either way, I learned from an early age that weight loss is what women were commended for.
So in a bid for someone – anyone – to notice me, I would starve myself for days, get the attention I craved and then I would binge.
This went on for majority of my teenage and early adult years.
In my mid-20s I gave birth to a severe refluxer who screamed for months on end, never slept and quickly plummeted into the ‘Failure to Thrive’ category.
I already felt like I had stolen something from my husband with the 25kg I gained during the pregnancy but now I felt that my body had failed my son who desperately needed help.
I was told repeatedly that ‘Breast Is Best’ but in my case, breast is worst. I experienced an uncommon hormone reaction while breastfeeding that left me with post natal depression.
By the time I fell pregnant with my daughter I was only a few kilos off my ‘ideal’ weight but I looked unimaginably different to what I expected.
Our daughter was born and quickly diagnosed with GORD, as her brother had been before her.
I attempted to breastfeed again but I sank into what was diagnosed as severe post natal depression. A combination of the pressures of mothering to children with severe reflex and who refused to sleep, a feeling of overwhelming numbness, the grief of six pregnancies that ended before their time and the overwhelming shadow of inadequacy inside me led me to the darkest place conceivable.
Just prior to Christmas that year, I attempted to take my own life. I thought I was helping my family. I felt that if they were free of my mind and body’s inability to help any of them that they could go on to lead fruitful and happy lives.
Recovery was gruelling and took months of hard work.
After avoiding it for as long as I could, I eventually felt strong enough to look in the mirror at my naked body. I inspected every part of this creation that had been given a second chance. I noticed the shiny silver stretch marks that covered my breasts, belly and hips and felt a new appreciation of who they were there for. I saw my upper arms and noticed they were much bigger than previously. I couldn’t help but be thankful for the extra cushioning I now had to embrace my children. I investigated the once perky breasts that now hung from my chest like a pair of wet socks, feeling elated that for the first time in my life [bracing my pelvic floor] I was able to let out a giggle over the imperfections I held.
My new body was amazing and despite its new appearance, I loved it. So did my husband.
I wondered what my tiny Overlords would grow to see of me and how that would impact their view of themselves.
My new focus is to show them how wonderfully created they are, from the tall and slender frame of my son to the deliciously chubby thighs of my daughter. They will be commended for their kind hearts and actions not the way they refrain from their second bowl of spaghetti.
I wish I could go back and say these things to my 13-year-old self while offering her another slice of cake.
I know my children will never have to endure the heartbreak from a chronically misinformed, dysmorphic generation because the result of their mother’s recovery is a fierce lioness willing to do anything to protect and empower her cubs.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can get support at Lifeline.