I know that every pregnancy is different, but that doesn’t […]
I know that every pregnancy is different, but that doesn’t stop me from making ridiculous comparisons, like Googling belly bump pictures at 13 weeks to see how my body measures up. Like I said, I know that is ridiculous, and yet my insecurities fuel the bad habit. As my body changes at what feels like a snail’s pace, I’ve been finding myself very insecure during this stage of my pregnancy. I’ve put on a few pounds and feel perpetually bloated, just enough to give the appearance of someone who indulges in too many donuts rather than a glowing pregnant woman. I constantly pull my shirt away from my little tummy bulge while imagining what people must think, I can’t tell if she’s pregnant, or just a bit overweight.
You don’t have to tell me how absurd this is; I’m fully aware.
At home, the struggle is real. I try on countless different outfits only to end up throwing a fit on top of a pile of clothes that just don’t fit right anymore. I wince as I step on the scale and try not to look in the mirror before climbing into the shower. My very patient husband listens as I complain about the appearance of my body and then reassures me that he’s never been more attracted to me, that being pregnant with his child couldn’t be more sexy. He also does a great job of reminding me that all of these changes are necessary, because, after all, I am growing a human inside of me. I knew the man I married would be a keeper come time for babies.
Let me make something clear: I’m not ungrateful. Of course, I know that my ability to get pregnant and bear a child is an amazing gift, one that is not promised to all women. I am grateful for the way my body can change and adapt to nurture the baby I carry. It’s just, I wish I would have better prepared my body to do so. This pregnancy was unplanned, although not well prevented, and it came during a time when I was trying to lose weight. Through the feeding frenzy of the holidays and a nasty flu that knocked me off my butt the entirety of January, I had gained more weight than I was comfortable carrying around. I was just jumping back on the healthy lifestyle bandwagon when a positive pregnancy test changed everything.
As much as I’ve wanted to get fit and be healthy, especially during pregnancy, the first trimester did me no favors. When chatting with a good friend of mine, I described the second half of the first trimester as feeling like a constant hangover. I was exhausted and nauseous all the time, with a hunger that only junk food could satisfy. Carbs were my only friend, however bad for my diet. Exercise felt impossible after an eight-hour work day. Some days I’d feel so tired after work that I’d park my car just outside of my front door, turn off the ignition, sit in the front seat and cry. Just the thought of how tired I was brought on the tears. Needless to say, my first trimester came and went without a shred of exercise or healthy eating.
This extra weight I’ve been carrying around since before I got pregnant has made it very difficult to appreciate the changes to my body. My multiple pregnancy apps urge me to take a belly bump picture every week, and every week I ignore the request. The few people that I’ve discussed my insecurities with have all told me the same thing; Don’t worry so much about things like that, just enjoy your pregnancy. While I have to agree that avoiding such unnecessary stress is sound advice, I still struggle with these insecurities. I will admit that this fixation is partly fueled by the desire to look good in a bikini (with or without the baby bump), but it’s mostly about my well being. I want to own this pregnancy. I want to feel healthy and strong, not just for me but for the baby, too.
Now that the majority of the first trimester nasties are behind me, I’m starting to feel more like myself again. With a new found hunger and surge in energy, I’ve switched the junk food for a more balanced diet and swapped the couch for the hiking trails. I devote at least 30 minutes a day to some form of exercise, whether it be light weights and squats or prenatal yoga. I’ve updated my wardrobe with some maternity jeans, thoughtfully purchased by my mother-in-law, and do my best to dress in a way that flatters my changing body. Finally, I remind myself every day that all of this will be well worth it in the end. Who knows, maybe I’ll even snap the first picture of my growing baby bump.