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Pregnancy with an Eating Disorder

On finding strength, acceptance and perseverance in pregnancy and motherhood.

Pregnancy with an Eating Disorder

Hi. My name is Jaime. I am a grateful compulsive overeater, anorexic and bulimic.

An identifier I have found comfort and pride in, it would be these words and their subsequent actions that made me fear ever becoming pregnant. These words and their subsequent actions made me feel I would never place the needs of my unborn child before my own sickness.

But I did.

My road to recovery has been a long one, living in disease for nearly my entire lifetime, it wouldn’t be until I found acceptance that the fear would subside in order for a beautifully abstinent pregnancy to emerge.

And it did.

With recovery came the sincerest of honesty, becoming painstakingly open with my eating disorder, and myself. This body was no longer mine and it was in that message where I would find acceptance. I knew the moment I learned that I was going to become a mother that I would have to forsake the body I had finally learned to love and what it eats, looks like and how it operates. I was doing it all for my son. The work that lead to this moment would offer the greatest reward, a present mother who was able to be in love with her child.

For the first time in my life I found beauty in my body. The ever-evolving shape of my belly granted me freedom. Scared, fearful, brave and courageous, turning my body over to the care of my unborn son was my first step into motherhood. It was no longer about me. This body was no longer mine. It was his.

I listened to my body. I paid attention to the cravings. Being a vegan, I knew the minute I craved a food that it would be a food I would need to consume. Within 5 weeks I was craving dairy. Rightly so, I would later find out I was severely calcium deficient. With a little help from the universe, I would take my first bite of cheese. It was no longer about me. This body was no longer mine. It was his.

I watched the pounds increase month-to-month, week-to-week. I worked at letting go of the numbers that swirled in my head; having found peace and serenity in the fact that gaining weight was healthy. It was beautiful. For the first time since the age of 7 I had found comfort in having a big belly, a perfectly round badge of honor I proudly wore. For the first time I allowed it. I found happiness in it. Beauty. But most importantly, I found love. It was no longer about me. This body was no longer mine. It was his.

Knowing that whenever a behavior would flair it’s ugly head just meant there was something in my life that needed to be addressed; I had a visible reminder as to why I was fighting the battle of my life. It was no longer so easy to simply give in. I couldn’t just start anew come Monday morning. I couldn’t just for old times sake, just one last time. It was no longer about me. This body was no longer mine. It was his.

And here I am.

I am the mother of a healthy, beautiful, thriving, striving little boy. I would be lying if I didn’t say there are days that I struggle. I would be lying if I didn’t say there are days I want to give up. And then I look at that face and I know there’s no other way for me to live. I have to continue to accept the fact that there is a piece of me; beaten, battered and bruised, that needs me to continue to place myself before him. It was no longer about me. This life was no longer just mine. It was his.

As a mother, it is quite hard to be able to say I come before my child. The looks received when that statement is made are often full of judgment. But I know all too well that without placing myself first, I cannot and will not be here for him. And that to me is non-negotiable. It was no longer about me. This life was no longer just mine. It was his.

Throughout my time as a mother I have dipped my toe into the possibility of falling back into disordered living. I look at my child in those moments, and I feel nothing, a vast emptiness, knowing all too well that disease is just waiting to gain control. It’s that moment; a moment filled with terror and gratitude that brings me right back where I need to be.

Here. With him.

Hi. My name is Jaime. I am a grateful compulsive overeater, anorexic, bulimic.

And mother.

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But, a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4 year old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year...

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keeping an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Following children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

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Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

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Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

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Two weeks. I cannot believe that it has been two weeks since my second son was brought into this world. Two weeks since my husband and I welcomed baby Simon, the final piece of our little family.

But, here is the whopper: It has been two weeks since I have been the mom of a toddler and a newborn. I am now responsible for taking care of two tiny humans.

It absolutely blows my mind how much my life has changed in the last two weeks. It's definitely not all rainbows and unicorns around here, but things are going pretty well. This is me being cautiously optimistic.

What I have done is learned a lot about myself, my kids and my new life in the last two weeks.

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