Before becoming pregnant, I was curious as to how I would handle the body changes that came along with pregnancy. For quite some time I had been in a place of accepting my body and having no real desire to change it, yet a strong desire to care for it. I was in a good place of respect and I knew it might be challenged in pregnancy.
In all honesty, for at least the first 20 weeks, I didn’t have any negative reactions to any changes. It might have been more than 20 weeks, I don’t specifically remember, but other than the odd “I don’t feel like myself, my body looks weird, I don’t like this” moment, I was completely fine. The stretch marks that I say look like bear claw marks on my boobs never bothered me and although I kept expecting my jeans to stop fitting, they never did (except for around my waist obviously).
Having said that, over the last few weeks, I’ve found it increasingly more difficult to tolerate the rapid changes my body has been undergoing, and I think it’s good to be honest about it. There’s a lot of focus in the anti diet and body acceptance movement on always being able to tolerate your body no matter what, AND in the world of pregnancy, there’s SO MUCH pressure to love your pregnant body, be grateful for the gift you’ve been given to grow a human and to accept all of the changes with grace rather than feeling negative about it. I think that’s fine if you’re someone who DOES love their pregnant body/feel awesome in it and appreciate it. I also think it’s fine if you don’t.
I’m accepting that I fall in to the later category. I don’t feel awesome in my pregnant body. I DON’T wake up and love how I look when I’m getting dressed. I DO find it hard. I think a lot of it has to do with the intense focus there is on pregnant women’s weight gain/how they carry/where they gain the weight etc. I’m not used to having my body be so openly monitored. I’m not used to having strangers feel as though they can comment on my body/what I look like/if I do or don’t look as far along as I am, and telling me about so and so who just BECAME A WHALE while she was pregnant (yep. people tell me these things about other women…). I’m not used to being so routinely weighed and measured. I’m not used to the attention. It’s uncomfortable. I also think that the changes come on so rapidly that there isn’t time for my brain to wrap my head around it before another one comes.
I really don’t see the difference between being in a bra and underwear vs. a bathing suit. Soooo there ya go.
My body is not my own. I share it with another little human who makes me feel like a different person. I look and feel different, and how I look and feel changes on a weekly basis. Pregnancy is overwhelming and I think it’s okay to admit that it’s a lot to handle and that you don’t love it. I don’t look at myself with disgust or hatred, and I don’t do a damn thing to try and control how my body grows and grows my son. I DO trust that my body is doing what it needs to do to keep both Alex and I healthy, and I DO intend to continue to allow my body to do what it needs to do for the remainder of pregnancy. Feeling uncomfortable in my body hasn’t stopped me from putting on a bathing suit to go to the beach or go swimming at friends houses. It hasn’t stopped me from wearing shorts and tank tops. It hasn’t stopped me from engaging in life regardless of how on display I seem to be. I don’t feel the need to hide my body and I don’t feel ashamed of it.
I’m still really proud of what my body is doing, and every single part of me is intensely grateful for a healthy baby growing in there. I think my body is amazing for what it’s doing. That doesn’t mean I have to think I look amazing as well.
Most often, I feel that external body image is a representation of what’s going on internally. Right now, for me, internally my hormones are all over the place and therefore so are my emotions. I don’t remember what a quality night of sleep feels like. I don’t remember what it’s like to have a normal level of energy. I’m really sick of peeing. I don’t feel like myself. I’m also still happy and excited about life and I cannot wait to meet our son. I still love doing a lot of the things I loved doing before pregnancy. I still believe in the same things. I still believe we all deserve to feel safe and okay and that we all deserve respect regardless of what we look like.
That doesn’t mean I have to look in the mirror and love what I see. It does mean choosing to love myself anyway.