Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CF Belly and New Jeans

Let me begin by saying that I have always, always been self-conscious of my belly.  I will not show it to anyone and I hate shirts which emphasize its size (especially relative to the rest of my tiny body). 
That being said, my past weekend included a trip that I didn’t think I would be taking this early in my life, and this blog will detail something I never thought I would write about (although I hope it will help other cysters).

A few months ago my doctors gave me a strict order that I needed to start gaining weight. Well, 8 pounds later, my pants won’t button and the ones that I can wrestle together end up causing me terrible stomach pains.  Obviously, it was time to get new pants, but I have an issue in this department. 

Due to my cystic fibrosis, my arms/legs/butt stay really thin and refuse to let meat be added onto them, but my stomach keeps growing (it also bloats like no other due to digestive problems. I swear that some days I look at least 4 months along).  I’ve tried crunches but I really don’t think that my abdominal muscles are the problem because with all the coughing I do daily I work them out pretty well.  Up until a few weeks ago, I thought I was the only one who experienced this not-so-pleasant phenomenon.   Other cysters, however, have posted blogs about their CF belly and I have come to find out that I am far from alone on this journey.
Normal belly now, without bloating.

And no, I'm not "sticking it out" You can see why my  button up jeans are now hurting.

Before putting on weight, I was wearing at most a size 3/4 jean.  They were baggy in the thighs and butt, and they fit tightly around the waist.  This is the issue I have had forever and I was getting used to it.  With my increasing belly, however, I realized I need to go up to a size 5/6.  I reluctantly tried a pair on and realized quickly that both of my thighs would easily fit into one of the legs, but the waist would just barely snap closed. 

Well now, I was discouraged.  If I wanted a comfortable pant size with room to grow I would have to buy 5/6 and 7/8 jeans, but if I wanted them to fit my thighs and butt I was going to need a size 1/2.  This is a depressing conclusion to reach when you are trying to conform to retail-driven America. I know that I am not the only woman out there who loathes buying jeans because you just can’t get the right fit. . . ever!  Thankfully, a  light bulb was going off in my head:  Maternity jeans.

That’s right.  I’m not pregnant (although I have been asked when my due date is), but I quickly made my way into Motherhood Maternity in my local mall.  I felt completely out of place in this store since there was no little life growing in my belly, but I started to browse through the jeans regardless.  I tried on a small size and an extra small size, hoping that at least one pair would fit correctly. 

As I went into the oversized dressing rooms (these should be in every store, honestly), I quickly pulled on the small sized jeans.  The feeling in my stomach was amazing. There was no struggling to button them, struggling to breathe, or intense pain whenever I sat down!! The legs, however, were still too big.  I looked at my thighs swimming in the material and my non-existent tush in the mirror.  I quickly took them off and crossed my fingers that the extra small pair would fit just like they should. 

I pulled the extra small on and have never felt so excited to be jean shopping in my life! They were perfect! Again, no pain in my stomach, but this time my legs fit normally and while my rear is still somewhat non-existent, it still looks better than it looks in normal jeans.  I was thrilled!

I rushed out of the dressing room and looked for additional extra small pairs, but all I could find were boot cut which unfortunately I cannot pull off.  I sighed, realizing that my size is still the minority, but still feeling excited as I brought my one pair of jeans to the cash register.  I do plan on hitting the store again early next month or checking out Kohls maternity section. 

As I paid for my jeans, the store clerk asked me numerous questions about pregnancy and when I was due, to which I had to sadly tell her I was not pregnant.  Surprisingly, she was nice about it. She said that many customers who are not due come into the store because the clothing seems to fit better than standard clothing.  She did, however, sign me up for coupons and give me an exciting goodie bag!

When David and I got home we couldn’t help but laugh at the goodie bag.  We now have a (gender-neutral) pacifier for our future child, nursing pads, and loads of reading material on breathing techniques and the dos and donts of pregnancy.  I may not use them for quite some time, but I decided to keep them anyway.  Why not? They’re wrapped well so they will store just fine. 

New jeans and no buttons = comfortable as can be

So next time you see me (please don’t ask me when I’m due), I’ll probably be wearing pants with a spandex material for the tummy.  You may not notice the difference (or maybe you will..how do I know?), but I can assure you that for the first time in months I’m not having extreme stomach pain every time I sit down.  And that my friends, is worth braving a trip to the maternity store, even when you’re not pregnant! 


  1. Brilliant! I, too, have the dreaded CF belly, though I would say my arms and legs have always been pretty "normal" for my size (petite, but not rail-thin) - at least after puberty. My mom put me on a really strict gain-weight diet, very high in protein, when I was going through puberty - she had read that that was a really crucial time for CF women. I ALWAYS had trouble maintaining weight as a kid, but after puberty I've actually for the most part done okay. I have trouble gaining it back once I lose it (I am actually really working to gain back 5 pounds I lost this summer right now), but I maintain it pretty well. Anyway... that really doesn't have anything to do with anything. ;) But I TOTALLY have a CF belly! I, too, have loved how everyone's blogged about it recently... it's made me feel much more normal! I guess we are the only skinny girls in the world who will never experience what it's like to actually have that flat tummy! Even at my most bony and underweight, I still felt "pudgy" in my tummy. (Even though like you say, it's not really a muscle problem and it's mostly not fat either!)

  2. Thank you!! I was pretty proud of my decision as well! I'm so sorry that you have the CF belly too :(..although I'm glad that the rest of you is "normal" sized. I also hope that you get the 5 pounds back on very soon!!

    I agree with you Cindy, even at my most underweight, I still had the stomach pudge. I hated it and wanted it to go away so badly! I have stretch marks on the side of my stomach too. It's disgusting. Glad to know I'm not alone, but wish you didn't have to go through it also!

  3. I don't think I have ever met a CFer who DIDN'T have the CF belly problem. Even the ones who are severely underweight or even end stage have it. So you are definitely not alone!

  4. OMG you are brilliant!! I am so glad you found jeans that don't hurt when sitting and your legs and thighs aren't swimming in them!! I have both those problems so badly! I have had a few friends ask why I buy such baggy jeans. If they only knew how big my belly/waist really is! Thanks for the post, I was nodding and saying, "me too!" through the whole thing!

  5. Thank you Inhaling Hope! :) I had friends ask me the same thing. Now that you are pregnant, you can try out maternity jeans and see what you think. You don't even have to feel awkward like I did, and you'll get a nice goody bag if you go to Motherhood Maternity. lol. You might become addicted though - just to warn you! :)

  6. Awesome idea! I have a few maternity shirts from target and I must say that I absolutely love them. They are always so soft and comfortable. Not to mention the sides are always gathered to hide that CF belly haha. I had never thought of looking for jeans.

  7. Beth! Thank you so much for mentioning the tops! I honestly hadn't even though about looking for tops there, but it would certainly make sense! I'm even happier that I posted this now, thanks to your suggestion. Before we know it all of us cysters will be decked out from head to toe in maternity clothes lol!

  8. I loved this post!! I HATE my CF belly and how hard it makes buying pants. I just gained like 8 lbs and even though my doctors are very excited about it I'm not! Nothing fits right anymore and I feel huge. Why my new weight can't go to my little arms or legs and it has to go straight to my belly I will never know. Stretchy pants are sooo not only for pregnant women (: I bought my first pair this summer after gaining all my new weight cause my pants either didn't fit or gave my the worlds biggest muffin top. It holds everything in and fits my legs, which is always a plus. I'm not officially into a size 3... I have been a 0-1 forever. I've always been very petite, Im only 5'2 so moving up was a real shock. In high school I was asked a few times if I was pregnant! Not a fun question to answer.

  9. Just wanted to say thanks for posting this. I just bought my first pair of maternity shorts. Brilliant. Super bloated now due to cipro. But I feel like my CF belly looks more flattering than having it spill out of pants that hurt like hell. I think I am gunna just be proud of my CF belly. Now that its comfortable, I feel like I have more fun outside of the house (aka...no PJ time). Thanks.

  10. Anonymous,

    I'm so glad you commented and told me about your maternity shorts. What A GREAT idea! I have yet to buy a pair of those, but now I feel a maternity store trip in my near future. I'm so glad that you are able to feel more comfortable and enjoy life outside a bit more now. That makes me so very happy. I know exactly what you mean. My belly hangs over regular jeans, but the maternity ones are so nice.


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