Going into pregnancy, it was no shock to me that my body would be changing. In the early parts of my second trimester, I relished each bloated day, thinking I was showing more and more and getting really excited about feeling more pregnant.
Even if I haven't loved maternity clothes, I’ve loved my changing body. Most of the time. I don’t know if this is strange or not, but I actually think I look best in my birthday suit or in my undies before I get dressed. I like seeing the roundness of my stomach and the new shape I’m taking on. Going through my daily outfit photos is another story. A bad angle doesn’t add 10 pounds, it adds 30 (on top of the 20+ I’ve already gained!) Still, Adam is a patient (and amazing!) photographer and I even though I don’t love love love my maternity style shoots as much as I did my pre-baby days, I think I’m making the most of it.
In short though, I like my curves. I love my belly. I love my belly the most when I can see it move and I feel like baby is communicating with me through kicks and jabs. And at the same time, I can feel really insecure about how I’m growing, showing and gaining weight.
I actually went through a few weeks where I felt really bad about myself. In hindsight, I didn’t feel well physically (pelvic and nerve pain) and I think that seeped into my emotions. I also think I’ve done something foolish - which is to place too much importance to what I’m seeing online. I’ll Google search “24 weeks pregnant” and see a lot of gals that are on the small side and think, damn! I’m getting huge! The much blogger loved quote keeps coming to mind “Comparison is the thief of joy” in these situations. A week later I’ll be at the midwife’s office and see that where I’m at is totally in the middle. What I’m trying to get at here is that people post the best of their lives online. The best meals they cook, their best outfits, tutorials and the best angles of their baby bumps. If you compare yourself to everyone at their best, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing something wrong. But if you step back and look at yourself in the context of the entire, wider set, you’re probably right in the middle and doing just fine.
There are a few lingering comments that won’t escape my mind. They’re harmless and probably meant as compliments. Things like “You’re so tall you’ll only gain in the middle!” or “You’ll just look like yourself with a basketball under your shirt!” or “Don’t worry about gaining weight, you’re the kind of person who will lose it all right away”. But what if I don’t? Will you be disappointed in me? Will I be disappointed in myself? These words all pile onto themselves and I’m sad that I’ve given them so much power over myself lately, but I have.
In the days when we couldn’t get pregnant and I wanted a baby so badly, I swore to myself I’d never say hurtful things about my body like I’m huge or I feel like a whale once I had a round belly. But truthfully, sometimes it’s hard to embrace such a rapid change in your physical appearance, even if you like it. I wish I was disconnected from my ego enough to not link myself and my physical body together, but I do. Some days I miss my waist or my smaller boobs or my colorful summer wardrobe. Last night I cried when I realized I’d gained 10 pounds in a month. And I think that’s ok. Life is full of hills and valleys and it’s my goal to just do my best to navigate them both with as much grace as possible.
If anything, I think to those early morning moments when I’m standing in the mirror, looking at the light hit the soft, round shape of my body are what’s going to help me most to improve myself esteem. I’ve started the habit of calling myself Beautiful Mother when I look at my reflection these days. Just thinking those words makes me smile.
Have you experienced mixed emotions about your pregnant body? If so, you’re not alone! As exciting as this experience is, some of the fear of the unknown can be really hard. It can feel lonely. Writing this out was helpful for me and I hope it was helpful for some of you reading it. No one else can ever truly understand what you’re going through so never feel guilty or judged because your experience is different. If it’s important to you, it’s important.
I want to be better to myself. I want to say kind things when I see myself in the mirror and mean them. I want to care less how many hearts or likes or pins my photos get (a recurring theme in my life the past few years). Because in the end, I want to be the kind of woman who doesn’t have to bite her tongue when she looks in the mirror because her daughter is listening. I just naturally want to feel positive about myself and not be ashamed to say I’m beautiful. A beautiful mother.
See more of my pregnancy essays HERE.