I locked myself in the bathroom. I stared at the mirror. In my reflection I saw dark brown eyes swollen from the mixture of happiness and tears that have filled them over the past four months. I looked at the scar on my shoulder and it reminded me of my adolescent college years consumed with late night vodka’s and taxi cabs that smelled like gyro sandwiches. My body is fuller than ever now. My hair is thick. And I breathe a little harder each and every time something requires me to bend. I just keep staring.
I’m beginning to learn that pregnant women experience a lot of strange things.
Before we were expecting a baby I remember really really wanting one but I remember thinking it would take us forever to get pregnant so any worry I did have didn’t much exist. I remember telling myself that my body will change and my emotions will too. I also remember thinking that I’ll be one of those few woman who don’t experience any changes at all and that the nine months would be a complete cakewalk. Coincidentally, it took us less than a month to get pregnant and at 26 weeks along I sit here laughing inside because I am definitely not one of the woman who don’t experience change. Sometimes I sneeze and I pee at the same time. Sometimes I walk up the stairs and already feel like I’ve gotten my steps in the for the day. And sometimes the ladies at work call me ‘so cute,’ and I want to respond with ‘really? because i feel like these set of boobs should have me on the cover of a Lane Bryant catalog.’
From September till February, I have gained 19 pounds, officially making me only nine pounds lighter than my husband. And I can guarantee you I’ll catch him quickly. Yesterday I called myself fat. A word I promised I would never call myself or anyone else for that matter. My body aches with pains in places that I never knew it could. I cry six out of seven days of the week for no other reason than that it just feels good too. Truthfully, pregnancy is hard. And truthfully, it’s only going to get harder.
To be completely honest, I don’t think a pregnant body is an unattractive body. I look at the women waddling in and out of the clinic and want to take them home and bake brownies together. I want to tell them to take off their bras and throw on some grannie panties because whatever feels good looks good too. I don’t want my anxiety during this time to affect my ability to be a good mom because waist measurements and the dreadful numbers on the scale should not be important. I am deeply thankful for a body that can support the life of a child, including every single area that has grown and stretched.
There is another side of the truth that sits heavily inside of me. I think about summer and the two weddings I’m in after he arrives. Will this body, my body, fit into those beautiful dresses? I think about the three weddings I have to shoot. Will my body be able to move and bend and capture love like it used too? Sometimes I just want to run away and hide and think that locking myself in that bathroom is the best place for me to stay until he comes out. The truth is, well it’s complicated.
I can either choose to live out the rest of this pregnancy dreading each doctor’s visit and each new symptom or I can look at my reflection and decide that there is nobody judging me. Not me, not them, nobody. I can live in fear that my bra’s will keep getting bigger and my ribs will keep moving outward or I can turn sideways and smile because he’s there now. The morning sickness days are over. The ‘I know I’m pregnant but nobody else can see that I’m suffering’ days are too. He is there, right there, rounder than a bundt cake. I decided that no matter how much more this baby boy grows, I’m going to be cheerful.
I can picture May. My eyes, still swollen like they are now. But I can picture my life and my body at peace. Walking with my husband, son, and chocolate fur child. Slowly easing my way back into shorty shorts and cami’s because it’s hot outside and sunshine feels good on me. I’ll probably be eating kale and grilled chicken like it’s my full time job but I’ll dive into frozen yogurt too because I want my son to see me happy. I will wake in the morning, snuggle my babe, and go to hot yoga. I’ll sink into my mat and see the people I always would see. Fit, toned, flexible. I will not call myself fat, however. I will challenge myself to be fit and I will enjoy every second of it. I’ll huff it through each pose, a sweaty mess. I’ll feel out of shape and inflexible but I will show up because this body has, without a doubt, shown up for me.
I look at myself in the mirror once more. My round body is staring back at me and I smile. I push into my belly and not even the skin moves. I laugh and think to myself that in just three months this skin will be jelly. The good kind of jelly; the kind that exists because you brought a tiny soul into this world. The kind that reminds you of motherhood. The midsection jelly that, in a way, makes me whole.