I have been blessed with a super high metabolism that happens to run on both sides of my family. Yes, that means I can eat that double hamburger and a slice of raspberry cheesecake and not think about the consequences of it later weight wise (at least until I’m 30, so I’m told. I have one more year to “enjoy it while I can”). While it doesn’t travel to my hips or thighs it will probably stab my stomach from the side though in disagreement and my belly may blow up in rebellion trying to process it. For that reason, I do still try to eat my healthiest for the internal health of my body as I feel so much better when I eat better!
Now, before you start getting jealous or think I’m bragging let me say this: I’m super self conscious of my body when not pregnant. Though I am not overweight and deal with the same perspective in that sense, in a way I do, just on the opposite spectrum. I am underweight when not pregnant. No amount of cheesecake, hamburgers, protein shakes, healthy fats like coconut oil and avocados do the trick. I’m stuck the vertical size of most twelve year olds, as well as in pant size (no joke, I can shop in the kids section when I want to!). When breastfeeding, it isn’t uncommon for me to sink even lower with bones prominent in places I wish they weren’t and my clothes sagging off my non-existent waist. I worry people think I have an eating disorder or that I am sick. I worry people think I don’t eat, but oh boy, can I eat! That isn’t the problem– it just doesn’t stick.
Something magical happens during pregnancy though and I actually gain weight. It’s one of my first signs that I’m carrying a new life because suddenly my body catches the hint that a little fat on these bones is a good thing. As the weeks pass I admire the new layers of curves being added. The wrinkly skin of my grown-many-babies stomach smoothes out as my baby bump blossoms. I feel more womanly.
What’s even more magical is my mental image of myself: I see pure beauty. Not just because my body is slowly covering the bones I wish to hide, but because I’m carrying another life. It still boggles my mind that as women our bodies are made to do this. How can we not admire it, treasure it? This is my 7th pregnancy and I still look at my reflection everyday, eyeing my stomach’s shape and growth, in awe that my body can do this. It’s done this process over and over again the last thirteen years. That childbearing gift doesn’t escape my gratitude as I know it doesn’t come so easily to others.
I will admit though there have been times as these last weeks have gone by that I’ve stared at myself worrying about the extra cushy love handles and the pigs-in-a-blanket-like-toes. Am I gaining too much, too fast? Does my husband still find me attractive? It’s still an adjustment seeing my body with new layers of padding and curves that I’m not used to either, despite the overall positive image of myself. As I gain more weight than most during pregnancy, my midwife doesn’t worry or tell me to cut back portions (although she does suggest limiting sugar and processed carbs for general health). She tells me, “As long as you are eating nourishing foods, your body will gain what it needs to gain.” I like trusting that if I take care of my body (ya know, as much as I can with the inevitable aversions, cravings, and pure laziness), it will nourish me and my baby in return.
My fellow pregnant momma due near me has a similar outlook on her blossoming body. DeAnna is on the opposite side as a self-proclaimed “fluffy mom” and recently shared this with her Facebook friends,
“I find it rather interesting how much more in love with my body I am while pregnant compared to when I’m not. I rarely call myself fat or gross when pregnant. I love what I see when I look in the mirror more often than not. That’s for sure not a true statement for when I’m not pregnant. I shouldn’t only feel badass and sexy when I’m pregnant. I should always uphold that confidence. Maybe I’m really diving into this thinking process because I’m about to have a little girl. I’d never want my daughter to talk badly about herself. Not only because as her mother I know I made her perfectly, but what a burden to bear thinking so badly of yourself. So, yet again, my children have humbled me into wanting and striving to be a better person so that I can be an even better mom.”
I found her thoughts to be so true and relatable, though we have different body image views of ourself when not pregnant, we both see the beauty and value within ourselves even more as a pregnant woman. As I parent my own soon-to-be-four girls, I hope I can catch this acceptance and self-love to bottle and pass on to my girls as they grow. Many of them have my same hyper drive metabolism and smaller height, I hope they can see beyond what I haven’t always been able to see myself and love themselves for exactly who they are made to be. Maybe I can’t bottle it up, but I can retrain my own brain to love my body no matter what season it is in and pass on the encouraging words to them.
Regardless of the scale beeping under our toes or the new cellulite patch on our tush…
We’re growing a baby.
That fact alone is incredible and worth seeing the simplistic beauty in our bodies. I hope you feel your most beautiful when pregnant, too.