The love I felt for my baby helped me to respect and love myself in a way that I wasn’t able to before pregnancy.
I have slapped myself in the face before. I have shouted in the mirror, “I hate you!” I’ve starved myself and gorged myself. I’ve intoxicated to the point of excess and detoxified to the point of emptiness.
Even at my “healthiest,” there was always a nagging dislike and distrust with the person I would see in the mirror. Always a part I wanted to fix or change. Something I needed to control.
But then two pink lines showed up on a little plastic stick and everything changed.
Suddenly the stomach I would pull at like taffy and photoshop out of pictures was carrying a human.
The calories I would count and restrict were not just numbers I needed to crunch, but life-sustaining. And for the first time in my entire life, I wanted my body to grow bigger — for it was evidence that my baby was growing and healthy.
Although I stopped actively skipping meals and bingeing and purging years ago, an eating disordered mindset remains. I will often say, ‘once an anorexic, always an anorexic’ as it comes out in how I live my life: The way I control everything I do and put into my body. The way I then need a release, only to have to control even harder on the other side.
It’s an exhausting cycle.
Perhaps this is why as much as I would restrict myself and hold back, I still had episodes of being out of control. My anorexic behavior of restriction and austerity always shadowed my bulimic actions of gluttony and rebellion.
No matter how hard I tried to drown it out, there was always a part of me gasping for food, air, love, freedom.
I was terrified what getting pregnant would do to my body and eating disorder. Would it wake the beast and send me into a downward spiral? Would I gain and gain with reckless abandon?
It felt like the most out of control thing I could ever embark on. Another being inside of me calling the shots.
But something happened when I saw those two lines.
When I started to feel the first inklings of cravings and aversions, when I started to feel exhaustion to the point of comatose, and nausea as if I were out to sea, instead of ignoring my body’s signals as I had nearly my entire life, I listened to them in a way I never had before.
I would feed my alarming hunger, even if it meant eating things I could not fathom before. And honor my aversions, even if they included my beloved vegetables.
I would allow myself to skip working out or take it easy when I did, even as my pants got tighter. I listened to my body. I listened, because I knew the stakes had changed.
It was no longer just me I was taking care of. This was also for the baby.
Knowing that I was doing this for the greater good of our family empowered me to face fears I had not dared look at for years. I normally make my husband hide our scale, yet I chose not to take my doctor’s offer to turn around at my weigh-ins.
No, instead I chose to look the numbers in the eye, watching them skyrocket quickly to numbers I had never seen.
I chose to lift up my shirt every week and take a picture of my belly, though just a few months before I would have tried to erase all evidence of a stomach through high-waisted pants and carefully chosen camera angles.
Where once I would have dreaded these changes, I began to welcome them. Want them, even.
And I began to learn that by simply listening to my body, it could do exactly what it needed to do. It would gain what it needed, and it would grow where it needed. Most importantly, it would take care of me and my little one.
I began to learn that by letting go of trying to control my body, I could finally trust myself.
Sarah Ezrin is a motivator, writer, yoga teacher, and yoga teacher trainer. Based in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband and their dog, Sarah is changing the world, teaching self-love to one person at a time. For more information on Sarah please visit her website, www.sarahezrinyoga.com.