Told She Was Too Fat To Birth Naturally, Pressured To Have C-Sections: Elaine’s Story

0 Posted by - June 11, 2015 - Birth, C-Section
A Beautiful Body Project & Birth Marks marcas de nascença

Photo by Leticia Valverdes

From Brazil: “I can not remember since when I’m obese. I remember talking about my weight with my teacher when I was in third grade: 45kg. I do not know if this is too much for a child between 9 and 10 years, but I have a feeling that it was a disproportionate number, because I remember the wide eyes of peers and teachers. And like that it went on. I got my first period early, at 10. It did not scare me. I called my mother, she confirmed what it was and quickly explained that every month it would happen, about every 30 days, and I was supposed to mark in a calendar to remember. I see the pictures now and it seems to me that I’ve changed my appearance. I looked older than my 10 years.


I remember in year 6 I was one of the few who had already menstruated, if not the only, and suffered from it. The other girls were disgusted and did not want to stick around, made a scandal when saw my absorbent pad in my backpack. I was one of the larger ones in the class room and I’m here asking myself: was I was already obese or just my body was different from the others, like my height was, simply because I was menstruating? Chronologically I was the same age as the others, but I was biologically older.
A Beautiful Body Project & Birth Marks marcas de nascença

Photo by Leticia Valverdes

Here began the interest in boys, but as I was pointed out by others in the room, my introversion increased. I’ve always been an introvert, but after menstruation it increased. Because of my closeness with books, I began to develop a parallel world of fantasy. I started living in an alternative world where everyone accepted me despite differences.


As well as being overweight and the only “menstruating” girl in the group, many people began to bother with my intelligence. School was never too difficult for me. I was diminishing my circle of friends more and more. My mother became depressed when I was 12 and I do not remember anything beyond school. I do not remember the home dynamics and of how things happen, nothing. I remember school, the few friends, my passion for New Kids On The Block, staying awake entire nights by candlelight, writing and listening to music.
A Beautiful Body Project & Birth Marks marcas de nascença

Photo by Leticia Valverdes

My mother was an athlete in adolescence and a smoker when a young adult. When pregnant with me she gained 20kg. She quit smoking when pregnant with my brother and after he was born began her struggle with the scale. I remember diets stuck in the fridge and accompanying her in the gym a few times. She became depressed when she reached the desired weight in her last diet, close to 37 years. I remember she left the doctor’s practice crying and I have a feeling that she did not stop for a few years. At the same time, she had an early menopause. I am aware of all this by photos and either her comment or my father. My brother and I just erased it from memory. Eventually mother regained all the weight and never lost weight.


At 12 years old I also began to bother with my weight and started to diet. I never lost more than about 5kg. So I then gave up.


All the girls in school were at the stage of discoveries, kissing boys etc. I tried but no one wanted to know because I was fat, so I stopped. The first kiss happened after 15 with a boyfriend that lasted 7.5 yrs of a turbulent relationship. I had the first sexual explorations with him and at 18 had sex for the first time. He was always very nice to me, always respected my time. We discovered each other, we found our bodies, we set preferences and experience all that we wanted. Interestingly, between four walls, I lost all my inhibitions. Years of feeling ugly for being fat had no influence in my sex life.
I stayed with him throughout my high school years and almost the entire university.


At times during our relationship, he pressured me to slim down. He recommended some doctors and even followed me in some appointments. Today I realize it was the influence of his family: a spinster aunt doctor that supported the whole family, a certain degree of general family hypochondria, aunt, mother and sister were always taking all kinds of newly launched drugs for weight loss or anxiety.
I remember staying more than two years without getting involved with anyone after we finished.
Then John, now my husband, came into my life.  He arrived softly, without flourishes, but entire, whole, real. Sometime between 2006 and 2008 the idea of ​​trying to get pregnant came about, but at first I was fearful. Eventually I was pregnant with Ana Luisa.
A Beautiful Body Project & Birth Marks marcas de nascença

Photo by Leticia Valverdes

I remember that before we conceived her I was doing a serious diet. With endocrinologist monitoring and using appetite suppressants. The excuse I gave to everyone is that I was losing weight because I wanted to get pregnant. But in fact, I was in a weight loss process because I thought I was enormous at 112kg (interestingly nowadays I weight 125kg) but had no ability to admit this to people. Because, culturally, it is ugly to embrace our obesity and talk about our weight. Being obese is sometimes equivalent to stealing or committing a crime. Saying I wanted to be a mother was more beautiful than admitting that I’m fat because I love eating and don’t have enough motivation to do physical exercises. 
It’s not easy to look at these pictures without judging them. Not at all, because the first thing that overwhelms is the size. Plus size for real, not those from the magazines. Hard not to look at the extra layers and think: My God, how did I have the courage to undress? And what will people think when they see it? Fear of others’ judgment, fear of my own judgment…”


I looked at the photos once, looked twice, looked several times. And, suddenly, I did not see the size of the person. I saw only a person. I saw myself. With other eyes, actually. I remember while we were making the pictures and you (Leticia) showed me one of them, I cried. I never cry in front of people but that cry caught me off guard. It was an spontaneous cry that came because I saw beauty. I saw beauty on myself, with all my completeness, size and folds. I needed your attentive and sensitive gaze, I needed “another”. It took another woman looking at me as equal, receptive, interested in the human being who was there…
A Beautiful Body Project & Birth Marks marcas de nascença

Photo by Leticia Valverdes

When I got pregnant of my daughter I knew it was a girl. I always wanted a girl.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves, says that personal stories are invisible tattoos that we carry. I have one the size of an elephant. And sometimes it weighs as much as a one.


Yes, the scar of my cesareans (forced even though I came to 10cm dilation just because I was overweight) hurt and bothers me infinitely more than my 125kg . Much more, no one has any idea of how much , no one . And I think no one can understand. -Elaine


From Leticia Valverdes: Elaine was two times forced into caesareans sections for not medical reason other than her obesity, including second one where she arrived in hospital already 9 cm dilated but was forced into a c-section as the obstetric doctor said she would not look after her and the baby if she insisted on a natural labour. She locked herself in the toilette with her doula but got scared and allowed the C when already 10 cm dilated. She was told she was too fat to labour.

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