My 21-year-old daughter, Whitney, posted an article about her perspective last week. So last night, I sat down with my husband, Mike, and asked him what his thoughts were on living through my pregorexia, but as the observing dad.
Blinded by Ignorance
I asked Mike if he was aware of the eating disorder behaviors I exhibited when I was pregnant with Whitney. He responded, "I wasn't even aware of what an eating disorder was and that the disease existed." He mentioned that since he did not know about the disease, he was not even aware of how to recognize it. However, he was conscious that I restricted calories and that my exercise was a high priority, but he never made the connection that these behaviors were part of an eating disorder. You might wonder how he was unable to make the connection. I think a big part of the unawareness relates to the time period during which I was pregnant with Whitney. It was 1987, and there wasn't a lot of publicity about eating disorders, unlike what we know today.
Oblivious on the Sidelines
I questioned Mike about whether he realized how much smaller my body was during my pregnancy with Whitney. "I wasn't paying attention to your size," he said. "I just thought that your body wasn't as big, but I didn't know there could be a problem." Also, Mike didn't believe a mother wouldn't be able to feed herself properly and take care of her unborn child. "I never imagined anyone who wouldn't eat enough for her baby," he said. Of course, at that time, I wasn't truly aware of my disordered thoughts or unhealthy behaviors to share with my husband or anyone else.
Treatment Provided Education
Mike didn't recognize the signs until I went in for treatment many years after my pregnancies. "When the doctors explained what the disorder is, I finally understood," he told me. "I felt like a fool because this disorder robbed so much from my family." Mike realizes now that the eating disorder is a disease, but this doesn't keep him from being angry. "It's a sick, sick disease that doesn't make logical sense. And if I can provide any feedback to husbands/fathers out there, I would say: 'Every new husband should get educated about eating disorders. It should be a topic that is discussed in premarital counseling.'" What my husband and I both understand now is that eating disorders are a family disease and everyone is affected.