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Heavy with Humour: Obesity In Pregnancy

Pregnancy’s got its challenges – stretch marks, swollen ankles, and nausea, oh my! And just when I thought being over 40 was the biggest plot twist, my journey took a detour into StayPuft Marshmallow Man land. (If you haven’t seen him, watch Ghostbusters)

Persian Flattery And Fails

Ah, the cultural curveball: getting labelled ‘fat’ by my Farsi-speaking mother-in-law. Mortifying, really. As H scrambled to mop up his mum’s directness before any tears could flow, I learned it’s actually a compliment – apparently, I am glowing and look healthy. Just when I thought I had that cultural quirk mastered, enter one cheeky khalleh (aunt) dropping the bomb with ‘Aranda kheli charg.’ (translates to very fat). Bless her heart, she forgot my Farsi lingo includes the ‘fat’ word. Looks like she’s off the Christmas list – lucky for her; she doesn’t do the Christmas shindig.

Hazards Of Health

So, rewind to my pre-pregnancy days when I was sipping on vile green wheatgrass juice like it was the elixir of life, hitting the gym daily, aiming for that elusive zero-body fat figure and failing. Spoiler alert: Yeah, that magical potion didn’t exactly transform me into a supermodel, but hey, a girl can dream! I was probably lifting more chocolate bars than weights. Even at a size 14/16, my BMI lingered at 28, setting the stage for some proper tantrums at times.

Barberry Blunders

And let’s not forget my adventurous pursuit of health foods. I’d even consumed a whole packet of Persian dried Zereshk (dried barberries) at work, thinking I was embracing a nutritious snack. Little did I know they needed a good wash, came with a few surprise spikes, and, oh yes, shouldn’t be eaten raw. That experience left me feeling slightly nauseous, proving that my quest for health sometimes took unexpected, and mildly prickly, turns. Ah, the glamorous life of a size 14 health enthusiast.

Fitness Queen

Fast forward to my 14-week hospital check-up, full of optimism and feeling like a fitness queen who conquered the swimming pool daily. Then bam! The midwife drops the BMI bomb – 31. I’m officially labeled OBESE. Cue the metaphorical headteacher’s office visit, where obesity in pregnancy pamphlets are handed out like party favours.

Worth noting that while writing this blog, Yoast reminded me that using the word obese is potentially harmful. I should consider using an alternative, such as has a higher weight, higher-weight person, person in higher weight body, heavier person, unless referring to someone who explicitly wants to be referred to with this term!

Persian Politeness

Back to ‘that’ moment. All my Persian politeness flew out the window. I just wanted to swear loudly in Farsi, KHAK TOO SARET GOOSHKOOB! (which translates to sand on your head, potato masher) shocking everyone in the room. Yes, I had officially become a drama queen, complete with a crown of pamphlets and a newfound aversion to BMI scales. It took some chai nabat (sugar cane tea) to calm me down, turning the hospital visit into a tea-sipping, pamphlet-flinging comedy. And here I was, thinking all Persian food was healthy. What a boz (goat).

Post-Appointment Meltdown

Post-appointment meltdown? Oh, absolutely. I stared at my dinner plate, pushing food around. The midwife’s well-intentioned advice? Take aspirin to fend off pre-eclampsia. Because nothing says “happy pregnancy” like aspirin cocktails, right? Na baba (no way).

AJAB ASP! (what a horse) – which isn’t the insult you might think! For example, a blinkered horse only sees in front of them. So it essentially the phrase translates from Farsi to mean my midwife is just sticking to the guidelines, not me as an individual.

The BMI Stalker

Now, enter the idyllic Birthing Centre – think birthing pools, comfy sofas, and TVs. It’s basically a spa retreat for delivering babies. But wait, my BMI had to play spoiler. Every day, I stepped on to the scales, noting down every morsel I ate, comparing myself to other pregnant mums in the antenatal class. Yes, I was the BMI stalker.

Cut to the consultant – small, skinny, and suddenly my BMI becomes the star of the show. My heart sank as she delivered the verdict. BMI 35.3. Suddenly, water birth at the Birthing Centre was off the table, but hey, elective caesararean was an option. Because, of course, it makes total sense to deny a bath but offer a surgical procedure!

The tears flowed. The consultant suggested a home birth, and I snapped back, “No, thank you. I’ll pass on the home water park experience.” Enter a flurry of emotional emails, a meeting with consultants, and an induction on my due date.

Hormonal Rage

The delivery suite; cold, clinical, and a curtain hanging on for dear life. My hormonal self raged against the pitocin drip, the epidural, and the less-than-ideal birthing environment. Even H tried the gas and air, but it didn’t do anything for him. Yet, despite this, Cyrus entered the world – 8lb 4oz, not a big baby, just perfect. He was so perfect that my sister-in-law affectionately called him fandogh koocholoo ‘a little hazelnut’ in Persian, adding a touch of sweetness to the clinical setting.

So here’s the punchline; my pregnancy may have been a BMI rollercoaster, but the grand finale was one healthy, happy baby. And to all mums-to-be facing the comedy and drama of obesity in pregnancy, just remember; you’re the leading charg-e chelleh (larger lady) in this story.

For more tales from pregnancy, you may like to read about my other experiences.


Saffron and Cyrus is a Newcastle-based family lifestyle blog, covering health, wellness, days out, travel, reviews, recipes and more from our family life.
The blog is written by new mum over 40, Aranda, with input from hubby H and son, Little C.

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