This time 17 years ago I was very heavily pregnant. Waiting for a baby that should've been born in November... 
I thought someone was playing a joke on me and he wasn't ever going to come out. I'd gained almost 5 stone in weight and my boobs were like a couple of shiny watermelons. I was so uncomfortable. I'd had heartburn since the fourth month of pregnancy; it had started literally once the morning sickness passed. Liquid Gaviscon was my friend for the duration and I never went anywhere without it in my handbag. 
 
Reluctant to be born 
I ended up being induced 10 days after my due date. Even then he was reluctant to be born. Finally, with the intervention of forceps I delivered an 8lb 10oz baby boy with tufty blonde hair and beautiful big blue eyes. He was just perfect and I fell immediately in love with him. 
 
Life changer 
The reason I'm telling you about all this is because it was the ultimate life changing time. Having a baby changes everything about your life. If you are a parent you'll know from experience. Your priorities change and what was once important becomes less so. I had planned on going back to my college lecturing job just 3 days a week after maternity leave. That never happened, I couldn’t face leaving him with someone else looking after him while I commuted 140 miles a day to look after and teach other people’s kids. 
 
Not sensible but perfect 
As the main breadwinner of the household this was probably not the most sensible decision I’ve ever made. We had no savings and credit card debts – oops. This is where the Virgin Cosmetics Company came into my life. That’s a story for another day but suffice to say that it was a perfect solution and my main source of income for 8 years. 
 
16 years of baby weight 
The other life changing thing about this pregnancy was that my body has never been the same since. I have stretch marks, my boobs never really went back from being watermelons and I'm still carrying that extra weight I gained over those 9 months. I have never been on the skinny end of the scale and always thought I was fat. I remember ‘dieting’ in my late teens; the reality was that I had a lovely figure. That makes me a bit sad now. 
 
Merrydown cider and toast 
I gained some weight during my student years; I put that down to large quantities of alcohol and lots of stodgy, cheap but filling food. I joined my first slimming club, WeightWatchers, in my mid twenties. I used to go to classes in my lunch hour from work. I think I lost around 20lbs but in the meantime got quite obsessed with food. I once remember binge eating on stuff I had denied myself for ages. I then took some laxatives. That was a wakeup call. I will never forget that weekend when those kicked in... 
 
Mirror, mirror on the wall... 
Since then I've been on various diets and lost weight several times but put it back on several times too. I've hated my body and not been able to look at myself in the mirror without clothes on. My relationship with my body affected my relationship with my husband. I am Tryer Tracey; I've tried all the diets. Had my thyroid checked, been for CBT and been prescribed blue fat busting tablets... 
 
Self esteem 
If ever I used to moan to friends about being fat they used to say “well, yeah... But you always look nice." And I know I did; I always have my haircut every 6 weeks to keep it looking good and make up is just a part of my morning routine. But I never really felt happy with how I looked because I was always focusing on the fact that I was overweight. Not that being curvaceous has ever held me back from achieving anything career wise etc... Well, other than feeling good about my " body image' that is. I've also got some mega scarring from all the surgeries on my hip and I've limped for most of my life - can't say that my disability has ever held me back either. It is possible to be confident and successful in other areas of your life but to have low self esteem. 
 
Online dating 
The turning point for me in terms of accepting and being ok with my body was online dating. I initially signed up mainly because of curiosity and to see what the 'dating scene' was like these days having been in a 23 year relationship. It dawned on me that no one knew or needed to know that I used to be slimmer. The admirers liked me as I am...not for what I looked like twenty odd years ago. 
 
Love is 
I wasn’t really looking for a relationship as such but this is how I met my lovely Paul. We hit it off immediately and a few days after first messaging each other we met in person, he switched the fairy lights on (not a euphemism) and we have been together since. He tells me all the time that I’m gorgeous and he’s been so supportive in believing in me while I’ve been setting up my business. He’s helped me in so many ways, I love him dearly. 
 
Magic Wand 
I don’t let my weight rule my self image any more. I can look at myself in the mirror now and don’t feel disgusted by what I see. Don’t get me wrong , I would love a magic wand that could take a few stone away (and one day the time might be right for me to do what it takes to lose some weight) but in the meantime I’m not going to let my body size and shape determine how I feel about myself. 
 
‘You always had the power my dear; you just had to learn it for yourself. ‘ 
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