Too old and too fat to be pregnant (FFS!)

Amy Finn says:
I was 36 years old, 5 feet tall and about 170 pounds when I went in excitedly to my initial ob appointment for my third pregnancy. I was stoked about this little surprise the Universe had dropped into my lap.

I had delivered my second baby through this practice just five years earlier and admittedly, while I liked one doctor more than the other four, I didn’t have any issue with them throughout my care despite my gaining 50 pounds during that pregnancy.

That changed immediately with this visit.

The doctor walked in holding my chart. The first thing she said was, “We all know you don’t want to be here.” I laughed just because I couldn’t figure what she was on about. She continued, “Thirty six years old and a third baby. Hmm. We all know your eggs aren’t any good any more.” My eyes darted around the room looking for just who “we all” were in the room. Nope, no one else there. Just the two of us and of course, my baby.

She spoke on and on about why it probably wasn’t a good idea for me to have the baby and that time was running short for me to terminate the pregnancy. I finally held my hand up and said, “I am not terminating the pregnancy. Let’s just move on from there.” She sighed and looked down at the chart, her eyes popped out a bit.

“Well, you’re rather obese, aren’t you?” At this point I was looking around the room for the hidden cameras because clearly, this could not be real life. “If you look further in my chart you’ll see my blood work and health markers are all terrific.” I felt frustrated having to justify my size to her but I was in shock and truly regretting sitting on that cold table clad only in a paper sheet being berated by this woman who didn’t know me at all.

“Well, you can’t gain much more weight. It’s detrimental to your health and… and your baby’s health. You will only be able to gain nine pounds this pregnancy.”

At that point I guffawed so broadly, I’m sure patients two rooms over could hear me. “Listen, doc, if you again check my chart you’ll see that my two previous babies were each nine pounds. How could I only gain nine pounds? How do you accommodate a baby, extra blood flow to me and what not?”

“Nine pounds,” she repeated. She turned on her heel and left.

If I had been further along in my size acceptance philosophy, I would have calmly gotten dressed and walked out refusing to pay. However, I was still struggling with my size and so I continued at that practice. I made sure to never see that doctor again. I did complain to the senior practitioner about this doctor’s behavior, but I do not know if anything was ever done about it.

For the record, I gained 50 pounds with this baby. Not one of the practitioners said a word about it to me. And my baby was exactly nine pounds at birth.

This took place about a year before I realized and fully accepted size acceptance and health at every size. My life is much different now and I am thankful for that.

Health problems? They’re all caused by your fat, even the ones you had BEFORE you were fat!

Chai writes:

My problems began when I was involved in a gymnastics accident, that left me with recurring back, neck and left shoulder pain (still not officially diagnosed to this day). It left me unable to do anything more than mild exercise without pain. Two years later, I got an extremely bad flu which left me bed-ridden for 4 months. Over those 4 months I gained weight. I went from malnourished and underweight to overweight fairly quickly. From there on, I gained weight.

I will state now, that I am not yet morbidly obese, but I am fairly overweight.

I walked a lot, and used public transport. I couldn’t seem to lose any weight. After a long battle with Irregular bleeding I was referred to a gyno. The first lady was awesome. The problem was officially diagnosed as PCOS and she advised me to lose 5% of my weight, but understood that putting a number to my weight would do me more harm than help. My theory is that I could work on losing weight more effectively if I didn’t have to feel bad about the number that is my weight. She tried putting me on the pill to help with the PCOS, it didn’t help, it just made my problems worse.

In between appointments (which was a number of months due to the public health system) I changed GP’s. I found an awesome GP who understood my problem and didn’t judge me for it. She re- referred me to the gyno. I still see this GP.

The next appointment, I had this young registrar. I told her how bad things had gotten for me over the period between the first appointment and the current one. My life had gone to shambles. I’d gained more weight, been miserable, had no sex life (at this point I had been married just under a year…. No sex is sooooo not cool for newly weds) and was always tired. She gave me an exam and made the comment that I seemed to be so hairy. Then she asked if this was a recent thing. I answered truthfully and told her that my grandparents and parents had always said I used to be a hairy child (a fine blonde layer of hair (also co-incidentally a symptom of PCOS)).

Then this doctor changed tactics. First she accused me of not trying the pill (uh hello! its on my file that I tried it!), then she moved onto saying ALL my problems were caused by my weight. My lack of sleep, my bleeding, my pcos, my injury…. everything! Yes that’s right folks, EVERYTHING is caused by my weight. Now, I’m the first to admit that, yes, I need to lose weight…… But to be told my a medical professional that all my problems were caused by my weight (even my prior to weight gain problems), I cried on the inside. When I got home after the tests she ordered, I cried in my husband’s arms, not really understanding how a doctor could be so mean and dismissive of my problems, when I’d been referred there for a reason.

I went on to get mirena prescribed and I hope to god that I never meet this doctor again. Because I never want to feel as horrible as I did the day that doctor decided that because I wasn’t skinny, that my weight was the cause of all my problems.

Depo BC & extreme weight gain – must be all the sugary soda/juice you drink.

Christine writes:

Several years ago I decided to go on the Depo shot for birth control and to help with heavy bleeding/painful periods. It worked great, and my periods completely stopped for several years. However, my doctor never mentioned weight gain, let alone severe weight gain, as a possible side effect. I gained 70 – 80 lbs in my first 2 years on the shot. (And since I was still in the body hatred/pro dieting mindset at the time, I blamed it all on myself. My Family Practitioner certainly never brought up the possibility it was due to the medication.) Once I started reading about the extreme weight gain that can happen with Depo, I decided to go off the shot. (My last one was about a year ago.)

Unfortunately, the heavy bleeding/painful periods came back with a vengeance and I ended up in the ER, where I was given an ultrasound. I was told it looked “suspicious” for adenomyosis (a condition in which endometrial tissue grows into the muscular walls of the uterus) and referred to an outpatient OB-GYN clinic for an endometrial biopsy.

The doctor at the clinic started off great. He looked at my chart and said, “I see you had the lovely side effect of weight gain with the Depo shot. Unfortunately, for some women, they have to watch their diet so closely to keep from gaining weight that it outweighs the benefits.” We talked for a minute about what my weight had been before the shot (stable between 220 – 230), my weight after the shot (300), and then an additional weight gain that had come with quitting smoking (340). I’ve since lost about 20 lbs. since my periods returned 5 months ago.

So, as I said, things were going great. He had mentioned my size and weight as it related to my issues, but it was respectful and matter-of-fact. Then he said, “Let me ask you this…what do you drink during the day?”

“Crystal light.”

“And that has sugar?”


He frowned like he hadn’t heard me right. “What else do you drink? What about juice? Soda?”

“No, not really. It’s Crystal Light morning, noon and night.”

At this point he was incredulous. It was obvious he didn’t believe me.

“You NEVER drink soda or juice?”

I answered, “Juice, almost never. I’ll have an occasional soda when I’m out, but I don’t buy it for the house.”

At this point he smiled and nodded an “Ah ha!”

“Diet?” he asked, with a sly look on his face.

“No,” I answered.

“Diet?” he asked again.

“No,” I repeated, “I drank nothing but diet soda for over 20 years. I can’t stand the taste of it anymore. If I’m going to drink a soda, it’s going to be the real thing.”

“DIET!” he said forcefully, with a huge grin on his face. “That’s the problem,” he said, “regular soda is 100 calories a glass!”

“I don’t drink it often enough for it to matter,” I said.

“How often is that?” he asked.

“Maybe once a week, if that.” I replied

He mumbled something about Diet Dr. Pepper and how it tasted better than other diet sodas, gave a little shake of his head and dropped the subject. Then he went back to being kind, informative and respectful. But that incident really upset me. I’ll see him again in 3 weeks for the results, and I’m tempted to haul in the bag full of plastic Crystal Light containers I save for a local preschool to use for crafts. I don’t mind that he asked about my soda-drinking habits. I mind very much that he refused to believe my answer, and continued to hammer the issue – especially after acknowledging the extreme weight gain Depo can cause.

When fat hatred and misogyny collide

ModernElinor writes:

I think my experience is what happens when misogyny and fat hatred collide…
When I was in my early 20s and in my first sexual relationship, my then-boyfriend and I had a contraception bungle – I had taken the pill late on the Thursday, forgotten completely on the Friday morning and the condom we used that night broke. As having a baby in my early 20s with a man I had only been dating for about six months wasn’t part of my plan, I decided to take the ‘morning-after pill’, at that stage only available by prescription in Australia. I was probably being over-cautious, but as I had been diagnosed with PCOS (wrongly, as it now turns out) and my ex had been very explicit about not wanting children, I was a bit paranoid that if I got pregnant it might be my only chance to have a child and that complexity was not something I was ready to deal with.
I tracked down a doctor who could see me on the Saturday of a long weekend and told him the story – forgotten pill, broken condom – and asked for the morning-after pill. He first of all quizzed me about why I ‘had to have’ sex the night before.
He then asked whether I had had sex since my last period. I couldn’t remember as the ex had been travelling so much. And, quite frankly, I’ve never diarised my sexual encounters.
He subsequently went off on a rant about how he couldn’t prescribe the morning-after pill because if I was already pregnant I could sue him if the baby was born with a birth defect. When I protested, trying to explain the situation, further, telling him that I was monogamous and this was a one-off glitch with our usual ‘belt-and-braces’ approach to contraception, he interrupted me, accusing me of lying about my sexual history. And where this becomes a story for this site is that he went on to say, ‘I know what chubby girls like you will do for male attention.’
I felt like he had physically hit me. At the time I was an Australian 12-14 max (I think in US sizing that would be about an 8-10?) and noone had ever, ever made a negative comment like that about my body before.
He did end up writing the prescription but insisted I take a blood test to make sure I wasn’t pregnant beforehand. He also gave me what appears to be the standard lecture about losing weight (except for the nifty diet tip that drinking beer when I went out with my friends would be better for me than wine or cocktails because women’s bodies didn’t convert beer to fat).
So, I emerged from his office in tears, hearing the unsaid words ‘fat slut’ ringing in my ears and because I was so used to doing exactly what the doctor told me, no matter how ridiculuous, dutifully went and had the blood test. They promised to rush the results back to the doctor that afternoon before closing down for the long weekend, so I could definitively know whether I could take the morning-after pill while still in its window of effectiveness. When I rang the doctor’s office back that afternoon at the time I had previously arranged in order to find out the results, the receptionist told me he had ‘gone on holidays’ and she ‘wasn’t authorised’ to read me the results that the lab had rushed through and wasn’t prepared to ring the doctor.
Despite the best efforts of both me and a very riled ex whom I’d stopped from storming into the doctor’s office (today, I wouldn’t have stopped him – maybe that doctor would have listened to an irate 6ft 120kg bloke – or given him diet advice) she wouldn’t budge but did say he would call me first thing on the Tuesday morning. So, the ex and I talked about it and agreed it would be incredibly unlikely for me to already be pregnant, given our usual contraceptive hyper-vigilance, I peed on a stick (negative) and took the morning-after pill that day. Roundabout seven years later, I am still waiting on a call from that doctor to tell me if I am pregnant.
I did look into reporting him, but a dear friend who works in public health laid out for me exactly what would be involved and I decided that I had neither the time nor emotional energy to enter into what would ultimately come down to ‘he said, she said’. I do sometimes regret this.
I still to this day have trouble believing that someone who is paid to care for people nearly denied me the help I was seeking, based on his assumptions about women in their early 20s who aren’t thin – and that despite having a fair amount of self-confidence I was so easily felled by someone judging my honesty essentially on the basis of my size. I would like to think now I’m in my 30s, I would just tell him to get stuffed. But who knows? Fortunately I have had pretty good doctors for the most part, so this sort of thing hasn’t happened again, despite being quite a bit bigger now.

You’re fat – See a dietician

Kake writes…

I needed to visit my [general practitioner] to get some more birth control pills, but unfortunately she was on holiday so I agreed to see a locum [Editor’s note: a locum is a doctor who fills in for another doctor, a substitute doctor so to speak].

Birth control pills mean you need your blood pressure checked, so the locum put the cuff around my arm, started inflating, etc.  I wasn’t expecting anything unusual, since I’ve always had blood pressure on the low end of normal.

While she was doing this, the locum suddenly blurted out: “so, while you’re here, would you like me to make you an appointment to see the dietician”? Remember, she was in the middle of taking my blood pressure at this point. I _could_ have just said “no, thank you”, which in hindsight might (or might not) have made her shut up, but I did go on to say “I don’t see any need to” – because I didn’t see any need to.  I know plenty about nutrition, I have a very varied diet, and my regular GP has never had any concerns with my physical health.

Locum took this as a cue to start a rather blustering argument with me – a patient with her arm in the blood pressure machine.  (She wasn’t very good at the arguing; she did seem to get quite upset that I was actually scientifically literate.)  Unsurprisingly, the machine correctly noted that my blood pressure was high.  The locum decided this meant I couldn’t have my pills; I told her this wasn’t acceptable, and she caved in and gave me them.

My next few blood pressure readings all went wrong too, though – to the point where the GP/nurse said that it was obvious they were inaccurate. The whole business soured me so much that I didn’t bother registering with a new GP when I moved house several years ago, so I haven’t seen once since.

Luckily, as I said, I’m pretty healthy, so this is no great loss for me, and my partner doesn’t mind using condoms _too_ much.  I can only imagine how much it sucks to be unfashionably unthin and actually _need_ regular contact with a GP.

Once again, an eating disorder is no excuse for not dieting

Nemohee writes…

After years of taunting and teasing by the other kids at school (who always seemed to assume that being fat also made you stupid, in addition to being ugly), I developed an eating disorder. It started out innocently at first: cutting down to 1500 calories a day, keeping a food journal, increasing my exercise, but soon it got out of hand. I was consuming NO MORE than 500 calories a day, and my poor dog nearly collapsed from the long, arduous walks I was taking him on (after which I would put him back in the yard, and proceed to exercise MORE). I was fairly proficient at hiding my low calorie intact from my parents, so they thought I was eating a healthy diet, though somewhat reduced in nature.

Naturally, I started losing weight. I lost three pounds in my first week. The next week it was four. My doctors, who had always chided me for being overweight (even going so far as to insinuate that my mother, who is heavy due to thyroid problems, was overfeeding me), were thrilled.

“Keep it up!” one responded joyously as I stepped off the scale. Never once did they stop to tell me that losing more than a pound and a half in a week was dangerous.

Three months later, I had lost enough to take me from a size 16 to a size 8. (more…)

“You’re fired.”

Tricia writes…

My annual physical exam last year was something I had actually really been looking forward to. Not that I have some kind of weird speculum fetish or something. Just that I’d been making some really positive changes in my life and I was expecting that those changes would show up in discernibly improved health and some empirical validation would be nice.

You see, all my life people (including my pediatrician at age 4, one of my earliest memories) have been telling me I’m fat. This is really stupid, because I was never more than a little overweight. In my first year of university, though, I started moving from really not fat at all, to slightly fat. When I hit 150lb, I panicked, and went to Weight Watchers, and stuck to their regimen assiduously, and got down to 120 lb (WW said my goal should have been 110). I also shot my metabolism to hell, and developed a habit of bingeing under stress, driving around town in the middle of the night to different drive throughs and having three or four super-sized combos from different McD’s and throwing out the wrappers in garbages far from home so there’d be no evidence, then feeling so awful about myself that I wouldn’t eat the next day, causing… more stress. I suspect that the disordered eating was the result of the group dynamic at WW, where there was a lot of good food vs bad food rhetoric going on, a sort of confessional atmosphere that seemed to rely a whole lot on food guilt and feelings of shame if the number on the scale wasn’t moving inexorably downward. Plus of course not eating nearly enough to be well can wreak havoc on any body.

“People Your Size are Irresponsible”

Kelly writes…

I had avoided going to the gynecologist but I knew that I needed a reliable method of birth control. So, I went, had a great visit and came home with a script for the Ortho-Evra patch.

One pregnancy-free year later, I go in for a check up feeling super-confident and ready for the horror of an internal exam. I got another doc – a woman – who seemed unhappy to be dealing with me. I told her what BC I was using and she was aghast.

She gave me a 30 minute lecture about people “your size” and how it was irresponsible of me to use the patch because of my weight and then, out of the corner of her mouth, said “Well, I guess it’s no surprise.” I asked her what that meant, and she said – “It’s obvious you have a problem with being responsible for your body.”

I am still angry with myself for not a) putting her in her place, b) complaining to the regular staff and c) putting my clothes on and getting out of there. Instead, I laid there with tears in my throat and finished the exam. I also went back to that practice when I went off BC to get pregnant. I’m more empowered now and won’t go back.