One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

JOURNAL

Embracing Weight Gain

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I’m in a very uncomfortable place. As someone who has successfully lost weight and maintained it for 5 years, it’s strange for me to watch the scale go up and up during this pregnancy. I’m not necessarily freaking out about it or attempting to prevent it. I’m in more of an observer position. I eat healthy foods when hungry. I indulge in cravings. I stay active. Then every month I go to the doctors and see what the scale has to tell me. This week, it shyly whispered…. "You’re up 20lbs"

I wasn’t shocked or upset. Actually, I was surprised at how little the number bothered me. I’ve weighed what I weigh now NOT pregnant. Honestly, it’s what I weighed in high school. It’s pretty much what my average weight was when I started my 15 year yo-yo dieting cycle of hell.

It’s really not the number I’m having the biggest issue with. It’s the feeling of looking in my closet and having nothing to wear. Nothing feels right. Nothing looks right. I’ll put on shirts that look like they should fit and then struggle to get my arms in the sleeves. My coats all feel tight through the shoulders. None of my jeans fit, not because of my baby bump, but because of my new, thicker thighs and larger *cough* back end.

I’m confessing this because many of the feelings I had before losing the weight are coming back. It’s not that I don’t KNOW I’m pregnant. I know it and I LOVE it. It’s that sometimes your brain plays tricks on you. Sometimes the fact that a pair of jeans doesn’t fit can throw you into a self-medicating food binge. It effects you mentally and emotionally. This is the forgotten aspect of weight loss.

I forgot. I’ve been maintaining so long, I really did. This pregnancy is reminding me.

I remember feeling so defeated in college when I couldn’t find anything to wear that fit for graduation. I remember throwing a pair of jeans back into my closet when I couldn’t get them past my knees. I remember almost being in tears when getting clothes as a gift for the holidays because I knew, there was no way "that" was going to fit me.

If you’ve never felt any of these feeling it may seem ridiculous to you but this emotional part of weight loss is very real. It’s what causes a lot of people to continue the yo-yo dieting cycle. It’s not that they, we, don’t know what to eat. Most of us have read every diet book under the sun. We know what to do but this emotional mental aspect prevents us some how. Our brain gets in the way. We feel sorry for ourselves and turn to food to feel better. At least I did.

Experiencing all the body changes that come with carrying a child are reminding me of these feelings. I’m going to be honest, not fitting in any of my clothes is effecting my motivation and desire to eat healthy. But I’m embracing the gain. I’m doing my best stay conscious and motivated to be the healthiest I can while fighting these emotions, as irrational as they are



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Discussion

There are 37 comments so far.

    I understand complelety, as I struggle to maintain my loss, and try to lose more. It’s funny that you mentioned that most of us read every book under the sun – s0 true – with that being said I just cracked open “A course in weight loss” and it;s been amazing, it hits the nail on head in regard to the connection between emotions and eating habits. Nevertheless, you are carrying a precious baby, you are aware of your feelings, will sit in it a few days – maybe even have a 5 guys burger, and will get over it, in the meantime, just don’t be too hard on yourself!!

    Lorie H.

    December 9, 2010

    I am also a Lifetime Weight Watchers member. I reached Lifetime back in July with a loss of 110 lbs. I now find myself in my 8th week of pregnancy (surprise baby!). I want to enjoy this pregnancy as it is my 4th and most likely last, but it’s SO hard not to obsess about weight and what I am eating. I just don’t wanna end up gaining 50 lbs and having to loose that much again. Hopefully I can find a happy balance. So…you are NOT alone in your feelings.

    Jessica

    December 9, 2010

    thanks Roni! We ALL have these days – pregnant or not. I, too, was one that gained all over. Alas, I didn’t have healthy pregnancies – with the last, I had gestational diabetes. Just remember – if hunger is not the problem, food will not fix it. I suggest you find another emotional comfort…spa day sounds nice! When I was pregnant and swollen, I LOVED getting a spa pedicure. Not for my toes but just to have someone rub down my legs! LOL!

    Allison

    December 9, 2010

    I know where you are coming from. I have an 8 month old daughter and up until I found out I was pregnant had been on a major weight loss track. I was with in 5lbs of my goal when I got the news. I was not as together about it as you are. and totally let everything go. I stopped running, I ate whatever I wanted to, and in the end gained a whopping 60lbs. after losing 35lbs that was tough for me to watch. and now as I have lost 50 of those 60lbs with no effort at all I am starting to hit the point where I need to try again and after all this time I have no motivation to do it! But I am starting to dislike how I look and feel in my clothes.. It truely is a visous cycle..
    Good Luck and keep moving! I sure wish I had of!!

    Jen

    December 9, 2010

    I’m 18 weeks along in my 3rd pregnancy, and I’m having the same irrational feelings you’re sharing with us. I’ve been a member of WW since 2002 and reached goal in 2002, which was before I got married or had 2 children. So, the idea that I’m gaining weight and crossing my personal uncomfortable thresholds (weights) is hard to take. My maternity clothes look too big right now, but my normal clothes are tight, pulling in funny ways or are just too short.

    At the last doc appointment I had right before TG, they actually said ‘a bit of a weight gain since last time, huh?’ and although it wasn’t a negative comment, it’s stuck in my head and sent me into a bit of a mental frenzy. All my family says, “You look great. You’re supposed to be gaining weight.” But it’s uncomfortable for me.

    As you said, I, too am trying to embrace/own my weight gain, but it’s tough.

    I’m focusing my energy int0 eating healthy, exercising regularly, and of course my li’l ones 4.5yrs and 2.5yrs old. They take most of my energy! :o)

    Jack Sh*t

    December 9, 2010

    Well, none of that explains why I’VE gained over ten pounds since you got pregnant…

    NYCPatty

    December 9, 2010

    I was want to applaud you for writing your feelings. Anyone who has been overweight can understand where you are coming from. Gaining weight even for such a joyous gift like a baby has to throw you off balance a bit. I think its a normal feeling. When you are in a lose/maintain mind frame this is an unfamiliar feeling so I’m sure you are not alone there.

    What can you do to ease some of these feelings? Borrow or buy some maternity clothes that fit. If facing the closet is the trigger to these feelings, change what’s in there to clothes you know you will fit you through your pregnancy. And think ahead of when your healthy baby boy is here and you will fit back into your everyday clothes.

    December is rough on all of us with the holidays. Don’t forget holiday stuff could also be a factor. Look forward to January when all this hoopla is over. 2011 will be a fantastic year for you! :)

    JRenee

    December 9, 2010

    Why don’t you buy some cute maternity stuff over at oldnavy.com? They seem to have a sale every day. It will make you feel so much better. They have tall jeans that will make those thick thighs and rounded rear look great. I should know, I was in your shoes about a year ago! Got pregnant about 4 years after a tummy tuck.

    LesleyG

    December 9, 2010

    Roni, I think it’s such a good thing you’re willing to talk about this, as you always seem to be here on your blog. I know it must be very common among expecting mothers, even if they haven’t had the same weight loss experiences. I think that is one of the most scarcely dealt with issues, and yet the most common reason (as you said) for yo-yo-ing. Our bodies and behaviors follow our emotions.

    I thank you for sharing as I know that’s probably the main thing you were trying to accomplish here… just getting it out there. And, of course, it is just a chapter of life, not a definition of it. But I am sure you’re helping a lot of women, too. :)

    Best wishes!

    Ann

    December 9, 2010

    Roni, I have been following your blog and using your recipes for several years now but have never commented before. I just want to say how refreshing your total honesty is. It’s amazing that you can be that honest with yourself and to pass it on to your readers and allow it to help us is just totally awesome. You are beautiful inside and out! Congrats on your pregnancy and thank you for always being an inspiration!

    RhodeyGirl

    December 9, 2010

    Go to Target and treat yourself to a few classic and beautiful pregnancy pieces, and then go home and put away your old pants and such!!!

    I finally gave in and went and bought a few new pairs of pants in 1 size bigger and I have to say… I feel SO much happier now even though I look the same as I did just a bit ago.

    diana

    December 9, 2010

    Roni
    Not preg here my last is 22! I understand every emotion and scene u described! U have the tools to get the job done at the right time! Now is the time to grow your baby stay strong run or walk and when the voices get to loud turn up the music! Best to you all!

    Becky F

    December 9, 2010

    Thanks for this post! 12 weeks in, I’m popping a belly and feeling much of the same joy/frustration mix. After losing 70 after DS (50 baby + 20 more) it’s tough to see all that work “undone” -all for the best reasons of course, but when you’re fighting your closet on a seemingly daily basis, it does effect you.
    When DS was a growing baby, I had a gift bag in his closet. If I tried to put an outfit on him and it didn’t fit, in the bag it went. There’s no reason to fuss with it again if I already knew it didn’t fit, right? I’m trying to do the same thing with my own clothes. My work pants are history, so they’ve been tucked away for post-baby.
    One of my best mornings recently was when I had an outfit I knew fit my new “on loan” body ;) picked out the night before. It was ready for work (pressed, ect), so in the morning I didn’t have to dig or fuss, I just put it on. It was amazing how much stress I avoided. I need to do that more.
    Chin up, it’s only for a short time, and after, you know you have what it takes to take it back off in a healthy way! Grow, baby, grow!

    Alicia at Poise in Parma

    December 9, 2010

    Thank you for your honesty in this post. The weight gain of pregnancy scares the heck out of me – just one of the many reasons why I’m not ready to take that step quite yet. Hopefully sooner rather than later though!

    Cindy Hanson

    December 9, 2010

    I almost killed myself laughing when reading Jack’s comment (I had just taken a big swallow of water). Thanks, Jack, for THE smile of the day!

    Rachel

    December 9, 2010

    I would definitely recommend buying some clothes that fit. You had mentioned in a previous post that you weren’t buying any clothes b/c it’s a waste since you’re not wearing them very long (or something to that affect) and although I believe you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars, I think the difference a nice outfit makes, or wearing something that you’re comfortable in and looks nice can make such a difference. So even if it’s just something from Old Navy (so cheap!), you should buy things that fit and that way you won’t have that -omg I don’t FIT into anything in my closet -which triggers those negative feelings, not embracing the “I’m pregnant and growing a baby”.

    Christine

    December 9, 2010

    I totally understand what you mean but the impact of pregnancy was opposite for me. When I got pregnant, for the first time in my life I felt free from worry about my weight. It was such a liberating feeling not having to worry about my weight every day. I felt free because I didn’t have to worry about anything fitting, I embraced maternity clothes pretty early on. I loved it!

    Tim Wilson

    December 9, 2010

    I have to say I can understand *most* of what you were talking about….. I have never been pregnant for the record, but I did gain weight with all of my wife’s pregnancy’s if that counts :)

    After losing 90 lbs 4 years ago I have not really struggled with keeping it off until injury and two marathons got in the way.

    A broken collar bone (running injury) sidelined me from exercise for nearly 8 months. I didn’t gain much during that time but did put a little back on and remember having a lot of the feelings you are talking about.

    I ran my first marathon last year and following the marathon I cut way back on the mileage, but didn’t stop eating like I was training for a marathon. Needless to say, a 15lb gain was easy to achieve given the heightened level of intake and the holidays. I only took half of that back off before training for my second marathon this year, and now I find myself right back where I was a year ago – trying to cut back on the food intake following a marathon and struggling.

    I deal daily with what and how to eat and it makes no sense to me. I know how to do this, I took off 90lbs, just 20lbs while I am actively running 20-40 miles a week should be a breeze, but it is not. These emotions that you are talking about are one of the main reasons. When I fail with eating too much or making a poor decision on what to eat all those emotions come flooding back and I want to just give in.

    I am making progress this time, and the second marathon will not cause the weight gain that the first one did. Now just to get through the holidays :)

    Patty

    December 9, 2010

    Sending hugs your way, I remember the roller coaster of pregnancy hormones and that in-between time when you haven’t “popped” a baby bump was so frustrating for me. Hoping you are feeling better soon, just keep your mind on Evan, he’ll be here before you know it!

    mandi

    December 9, 2010

    Roni,
    As always, your honesty is so refreshing…and I think so many of us, pregnant or not (I am not!), totally relate to and understand your feelings. Hang in there! You are beautiful and you are doing all the right things!

    jessey

    December 9, 2010

    I was just going to write the same thing at Patty – that I think perhaps part of your issue could be that while you are more than 1/2 way done, you don’t look noticeably pregnant – to use your words, you’ve just gotten “thicker”. But you look amazing and I can’t wait to see how you look with a big bump. Perhaps that will help with the motivation. Honestly what kept me motivated (I gained 30 with the first, 15 with the second, I started at 206 with both) was the doctor not being worried about my weight gain even though I was obese, but did keep telling me ‘It’s just more you’ll have to lose after the baby is born’. But for now, embrace it, because pregnant women are beautiful, no matter their size.

    mel

    December 9, 2010

    I’m a person who NEVER weighs herself..and have always had to watch what i eat, to stay at a small size. When i was pregnant I did not want to get caught up in the amount of weight i was gaining, since I knew I would be gaining weight. I would always weigh in standing on the scale backwards and let them know that I didn’t want to know. My feeling was that I wasn’t putting on the weight from a lifestyle change, or from being an emotional eater, but rather from the uncontrollable physical part of being pregnant. For that reason I had little doubt that once I was no longer pregnant I would be able to take the weight off. Being pregnant for me was the only time in my adult life I wasn’t concerned about my weight.. I knew it would be going up, and I enjoyed that time. I did take off all the weight with both pregnancies…Your pregnancy will go by quickly. Don’t worry about your weight gain. It will come off !

    Mary

    December 9, 2010

    Thank you SO much for this post. I’m currently 18 weeks into my first pregnancy and had been maintaining a 35 pound weight loss for over a year when we started trying to (and succeeded in) conceive. I was one of those who was not sick at all during my first trimester (thankfully) but only found comfort in high carbohydrate/refined flour foods (bread, pasta, breadsticks, pastries, and MORE bread). I’ve already gained about 20 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and when I first found out, I had a mini-melt down. Finally, I kicked myself in the butt, and reminded myself that this weight gain is for a good reason. I’m now eating (relatively) healthier (though not as well as when I was losing/maintaining, I will admit), staying active, mostly through two part-time jobs that demand I walk/stay on my feet most of the time, and I feel good. I may gain a little bit more than I’m “supposed” to gain, but I’ve lost it before and I can do it again. My body is going to do what it needs to do to support this beautiful life within it, and I’ll be damned if I let a stupid number cause that kind of grief again. :-)

    A recommendation about the clothes thing: I recall you saying in one of your videos that you don’t want to buy maternity clothes. I wouldn’t necessarily tell you to run out and buy everything, but definitely investing in a few key items has helped me feel so much more comfortable in my growing body. Also, consider buying some items that aren’t maternity, but are maybe just a size or two bigger than what you normally wear. You’ll still need them after baby boy is born as you gradually lose the weight. I’ve bought a few longer, stretchy sweaters at Old Navy that are my normal prepregnancy size that look great with jeans or leggings and I’ll be able to wear them next winter (given I don’t totally wear them out this year from overuse).

    Again, thanks for sharing and from one pregnant mama to another, I totally understand how you feel.

    Angie

    December 9, 2010

    I know how you feel. You answered my email last April about not being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans in my 4th month of pregnancy. I had lost 40 lbs the year before becoming pregnant and was afraid of not being able to fit back into them. Your answer was so comforting to me and helped me get past my fears and embrace my changing body for the wonderful life I was nurturing. I did lose the weight after he was born by joining Weight Watchers. My wonderful baby is now an active 17 month toddler.

    Lesley

    December 9, 2010

    Roni I know exactly how you feel. I lost 54 pounds and got pregnant with my second a month after hitting my goal weight. With my first I gained less than twenty pounds, with my second I gained over forty. I knew that the weight gain was necessary, but hated the way I felt everytime I got dressed. Unlike you I had very low energy levels and just gave up on any exercise and eating healthy. Your feelings are very normal. I did not have any friends at the time who understood and would give me a lecture everytime I complained about my weight gain and how it made me feel. Go get yourself some nice maternity clothes, you might never wear them again, but it is worth it to have clothes you like that fit you properly.

    Tami@nutmegnotebook

    December 9, 2010

    I think you need a couple things to wear that do fit your body right now so you don’t have those triggers of things being tight and then having flash backs to being over weight.

    A few bucks are worth feeling happy when you get dressed!

    Marysabel

    December 9, 2010

    It is so refreshing reading this entry, refreshing because even if I am not pregnant, I know those frustration feelings. I am having them right now. I know what it feels to have a closet full of clothes and not being able to fit into a pair of jeans, pants or even shirt. It frustrates me and makes me mad at myself and sad. And yes, the brain play tricks on you, horrible ones. But I think this is part of the learning, of this process… someday I will overcome it, I did once… I will do it again. And I am sure the feelings will come back when someday in the future I get pregnant and I have to start accepting the body change. So thank you Roni for sharing this with us.
    Love,
    Mary.

    laurie

    December 10, 2010

    Roni, I’ve had 4 babies and my body just naturally gained the weight it seemed to need to gain during each pregnancy – usually 35 lbs (except my 2nd baby which was a 60 lb gain!). After each baby, I just got back to exercising and being a bit more careful with my eating and within about 6 months after each baby was born, my weight was off. I was always so busy with a new little one and running after my other kids that it honestly was easy to get back to my happy weight each time. So I guess I’m just saying, don’t worry about your weight gain now. Your’e going to gain weight and that is good for you and the baby and you will definitely get it all off after the little one is born. Enjoy this time!

    Again, I’m amazed at how you seem to know exactly how I’m feeling. No, I’m not pregnant … but I am gaining weight and can’t seem to stop myself. I had to buy a larger size in jeans just the other day. I hate myself for it, yet I’m only almost ready to do something about it.

    Yes, I know what to do. Yes, I’ve read pretty much every diet book ever written. But I don’t want to diet. I’m tired of that. I’m exploring intuitive eating, but I’m not there yet … but I don’t want to gain any more while I’m getting there.

    Annalisa

    December 10, 2010

    Hi Roni! I’m 17 weeks pregnant and am in the same boat as you! Although, thanks to friends, family, and Ebay, my maternity clothes are way cuter than my regular clothes, however, some are entirely too big and I look dopey. I definitely am mourning the loss of my old clothes. My arms and thighs are so tight in everything yet I’m only up 14 lbs and it seems like it’s all belly. I’m worried about my old clothes not fitting after the baby (read: summer time and no clothes). I currently have no casual pants to wear out on the weekend and end up feeling less than great in sweat pants. I feel very in-between and it beings up all those feelings. The other hard part is knowing I can’t just watch what I eat for the next few weeks and have my pants be less snug :-)

    I lost 80 lbs 6 years ago, but still have had around 30 to go but settled with where I was comfortable. Now that I see the new numbers on the scale, I do get lots of old feelings.

    HOWEVER, I’ve realized how much I’ve grown in the last 6 years. I eat when I’m full, I make a conscious effort to eat veggies, and with this pregnancy (my first!) I really have been striving to get nutrients in like omega 3s and 6s which I never considered before. I am also aware of sugar and sodium and try to eat as clean as possible. I do work out – although now it’s getting harder to get 40 mins of light cardio in and I’m moving on to yoga tapes and light walks.

    Thanks for sharing this, made me feel less alone!

    Kelly

    December 10, 2010

    Roni,
    First let me say again what an amazing thing your blog is – your honesty and fearlessness are so inspiring!
    Then, I second the clothes thing many are talking about- you don’t have to spend a lot but maybe get some great basics you can count on to look good and make you feel beautiful. There are so many cute options out there these days- I really think it will make it easier for you to have a few cute, well made maternity items. You can get great looking jeans and pants, maybe a great sweater or two, then fill in with Ts and knit tops that aren’t as pricey. I love the sales on Liz Lange stuff at Target- a pregnant friend (who is known for her unique style) gets a lot of fun dresses (great with leggings) and tops super inexpensively there.

    Melissa

    December 10, 2010

    I can whole-heartedly relate. I’m having my baby in T-8 days and am up 24.6 lbs … my doctor had guessed I’d top off around 25-27 given what I was gaining throughout the pregnancy (not much til the third trimester) and it is HARD to see the numbers. Today was more than 10 lbs above my WW starting weight in 2004!! It’s hard when things stop fitting and we feel uncomfortable … it’s definitely not a fun experience. Like you, I try to rationalize the “Why” — it’s NOT from over-eating and under-exercising but rather baby weight … and when you remember the actual baby weight — placenta, baby, fluid, blood, fat = about 25 or 30 lbs … it makes sense that we’d gain that much even being healthy.

    That said, rationally, it’s hard. Esp. with a dieting/formerly disordered eater background from which I came at pregnancy. Fortunately, I feel great and recovered and everything but still, it’s hard to see the numbers go up, up, up sometimes.

    The good thing to keep in mind is we have the tools to lose it once the baby is born — and that’s 5 steps ahead of a lot of people! So for now, just keep on keeping on, you look amazing and are strong and beautiful! Soon, (so they tell me!) we’ll have a new baby in our arms and all of this will seem less important. Easy for THEM to say … but really, I’m here if you need any support. Believe me, I’ve been blogging about these feelings the whole pregnancy–you’re NOT alone.

    Jackie

    December 11, 2010

    I can totally relate. I’m 29 weeks pregnant and am a bit OCD with watching the scale. Although I’m working to only check it three times a week vs. every day like before. I weighed too much before I got pregnant and I’m a bit obsessed with not gaining everything back. That being said, I’m eating and not denying myself and am remaining active. I had lost 11 pounds since I had my first Dr. appt at 6 1/2 weeks pregnant and today I’m down 7 pounds from my original weight. It’s a constant struggle not to be insane about this, but I’m trying my best. As I had extra pounds on to begin with, and my belly is definitely re-shaping, my Dr. isn’t worried.

    When I give birth I hope to be no more than 15 pounds up from where I first weighed in but will be ok if it’s a bit more. At this point, I figure that everything that I’ve done and am doing is to counteract the eventual slow-down I expect to face. But this will be my first baby so we’ll see if my hopes/expectations match up with reality.

    I also wanted you to know that you really are an inspiration and I’ve made a ton of stuff on greenlitebites. Thank you for having the websites and for sharing so many aspects of your life with us.

    Carin

    December 12, 2010

    Hi Roni – I don’t know whether this will help, but it’s worth a try!

    YOU are NOT gaining weight. What you are doing is carrying a little person around, with all their luggage – in the same way that you’ll need the portacot, changes of clothes, nappies etc.etc.etc. when you take him out after he’s born (oh my goodness, it’s exhausting just remembering the logistics of travelling with a tiny baby, and mine isn’t even 2 yet!), you’re carrying around all the stuff he needs at the moment – fat stores, fluid, increased blood supply etc. (I’m not biologically minded, but you get the idea!).

    At least carrying the ‘baggage” at the moment isn’t so hard on the arms… just on the back, your joints and everywhere else that swells up and aches!

    Obviously pregnancy isn’t an excuse to go crazy and blow out. You’re not doing that. Your gain is normal, necessary and a sign that you’re a caring, responsible, wonderful mum.

    Enjoy having your passenger along for the ride – carry the baggage joyfully and look forward to the day when you’re able to offload it from the bus!

    Maintain Weight Forever

    December 13, 2010

    As long as you’re not falling for the ‘Eat for two’ myth, you’ll be just fine. Last time you gained weight it was out of your hands, but now you are the one in control. Besides, don’t women lose some weight when the baby is born? Lots of women use pregnancy as an excuse to ‘pig out’, so you deserve a pat on the back for maintaining control, which is what maintenance is all about.

    Lindsay

    December 13, 2010

    I have felt the exact same way when I have gained a few pounds and some of the clothes that I wore comfortably were tight and did not fit right.

    I know other people have said the same thing, but I would really invest in some maternity clothes. I know you said you borrowed some from a friend, but to have some standard pieces that fit you comfortably now, would help you not go through those feelings. Target has great maternity clothes and old navy have cheap maternity clothes that are comfortable. Who knows maybe santa will be good to you and get you some gift cards =)

    Missy

    December 13, 2010

    Roni… I completely know what you’re talking about. I’ve had a much more difficult time this pregnancy than my last dealing with the gain. Last time, I was psyched- I looked pregnant! Yippee!!! This time, I held on to my regular clothes for as long as possible and tried not to look pregnant (especially during that awkward stage of “is she pregnant or has she just eaten too many cookies?”). When I tell people how I feel about it, they’re like “but you’re pregnant, it’s ok…” I know it’s ok, and I’m embracing it too. I sometimes feel like no one understands that I KNOW it’s ok, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t bother me sometimes…. Thanks for this post and for alllll of the comments that remind me that I’m *not* the only person who feels this way, and I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. :-)