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Birth—and Rebirth—after Bulimia

Judy Tsuei | Longreads | October 11, 2016 | 3,571 words

In pregnancy, writer Judy Tsuei found herself confronting the eating disorder she’d recovered from and her Chinese-American upbringing—and in the process, rebirthing herself as the kind of mother her daughter would need her to be.

Posted inFeatured, Nonfiction, Story

Birth—and Rebirth—after Bulimia

In pregnancy, writer Judy Tsuei found herself confronting the eating disorder she’d recovered from and her Chinese-American upbringing—and in the process, rebirthing herself as the kind of mother her daughter would need her to be.

Judy Tsuei | Longreads | September 2016 | 14 minutes (3571 words)

“140 pounds,” my midwife announces with a smile. “That’s a healthy starting point for your height.”

Even in recovery after fifteen years battling bulimia and compulsive overeating, the word “healthy” still feels like a euphemism for “fat.”

“You’re at nine weeks today,” she continues, talking to me while typing notes into her laptop. “How’s the morning sickness? Are you experiencing any nausea?”

Before I can answer, I make a rapid gesture and then run to the bathroom. I barely have time to lock the door behind me before dropping to my knees in front of the toilet. My stomach retches. I start gagging. Sweat seeps from every pore of my body.

Please, I plead with myself. I don’t want to do this. Please. Please. Please.

I lean over the toilet, gasping. I can’t stop it from happening. My breath comes in rapid gallops between moments of vomiting saliva, mucus, and water. I haven’t been able to eat all day, so there’s no food to purge.

More gasps. More heaving.

After a few minutes, I sink onto the familiar coolness of tiles beneath my shins. Kneeling. Praying.

Five years ago, I made a vow never to purge again. But, in preparing for a new life to form, I have to meet my old one head-on.

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