Kasey G. (33), London (6), Desmond (3), and Genevieve (8 months)
“I think I’ve always struggled with my body image, but it worsened with each subsequent pregnancy despite my increasing involvement in body positivity movements both personally and professionally. I am a health psychologist who works mostly with patients pursuing weight management, and I’ve made it my mission to help my patients make peace with their bodies and food. Sometimes I feel guilty and hypocritical that even though I’m providing body image reprocessing therapy daily, I continue to find it difficult to take my own advice.
I’m currently struggling with increased shame particularly about my stomach, and then guilt that I “shouldn’t” feel so negative when my patients, who are living in much larger bodies, often face much more significant hurdles including pervasive weight discrimination. But if I can play a small part in challenging internalized unrealistic beauty/body standards amongst my patients, maybe the world can become marginally better for women, including myself, and more importantly, my daughters.
A recent interchange:
London: “Is your belly is still big even though Evie was born?”
Me: “…I guess it’s medium-sized.”
London: “Will it ever go back to how it was before?”
Me: “No, probably not.”
London: “After I have a baby, will my belly be like that?”
Me: “Maybe. Our bodies change a lot over our lifetimes, and that’s a good thing because it reminds us of where we’ve been. My belly is a great reminder I had all three of you!”
Urging my patients and children to practice gratitude for their bodies is easy because I truly believe our bodies are fighting hard to keep us living, breathing, and thriving, and so we owe ourselves kindness. Now I just need to work on believing these messages as they apply to me!
Feel free to share your postpartum journey
All three birth experiences were better than most.
London: I was feeling really impatient because my sister and I were due on the same day, and she had had her baby two weeks early. London did not arrive until four days past her due date. But when I went into labor, it all happened very quickly. I woke up in the middle of the night and woke up my husband, Justin, who fell back asleep while I was getting the hospital bag ready. Some adrenaline rush on his part! He’ll never live that one down! But when we got to the hospital, the longest part of the process was getting the IV in, which has always been tricky with my small veins. I believe were in the hospital for about 3 hours before she was delivered at 7 lbs 14 oz, and out in just three pushes.
Desmond: Desmond was measuring big for most of the pregnancy, and by the 39th week, my OB/GYN was recommending a cesarean birth because she was afraid he’d get stuck. Knowing how easy my birth experience was with London and wanting to avoid a cesarean unless absolutely necessary, we opted to induce him so he at least wouldn’t be getting any bigger. By the time we got to the hospital that evening for the scheduled induction time, labor had already begun on its own, but they still gave Pitocin to move it along faster. The experience that stood out the most from this birth was that after the epidural was placed, I was still in a lot of pain, and it didn’t seem to be working. I brought it up my concern to the anesthesiology resident, who essentially discounted my concern and said that it wouldn’t be “Completely” pain-free with the epidural. It wasn’t until I literally stood up and walked to the bathroom that he admitted that the epidural hadn’t been placed correctly, and which point he commented that my pain tolerance must be high because it didn’t seem like I had no pain relief up to that point! I guess I hadn’t been complaining enough? The attending then re-did the epidural, and it was a good thing this one worked, because labor really moved quickly from that point and Desmond was born at a whopping 10 lbs, 5 oz! I was relieved that I trusted my instincts and declined the planned C-section.
Genevieve: For at least two weeks leading up to Genevieve’s birth, I was having pretty frequent contractions, so it was hard to tell when the real thing was happening. Ultimately, I was at the tail-end of my 40-minute morning commute to work when I became concerned about whether I could make it through the work day with the frequency of the contractions, and turned around and called my OB/GYN, who urged me to go straight to the hospital. Again, everything happened very quickly, within about four hours of my arrival to the hospital, Genevieve was born at 8 lbs 2 oz. At a much more “newborn size” compared to her older brother, she practically slid out with a couple of pushes in what the OB/GYN termed the “perfect labor and delivery.”
What is your truth?
I recently saw this quote by body positive activist Megan Jayne Crabbe: “Every cell exists purely for you & will fight for you the best they can against everything. It's okay if you can't love your body back right now, but maybe try to be kinder to it for today.” The thought that even if I don’t love my body all the time, it loves ME has been a great affirmation I have been using a lot lately.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I participated in this project for two reasons: 1) I decided to take the advice I usually give my patients about conquering anxiety by confronting the things they avoid. In my case, being "exposed" brings up a lot of vulnerability and nervousness, but going out of my comfort zone has to be part of my growth process. 2) I attended 4th Trimester Bodies Project’s Body, Breast, Baby conference a few years ago in Portland OR and found it very inspiring! I am really looking for another great dose of empowerment!”