I walked to my car, called my husband to tell him that I was fat, and then promptly burst into tears.
I am in the midst of my third pregnancy. I’ve already warned my new husband that throughout my two previous pregnancies, I gained a lot of weight ― 70 pounds to be exact … each time. While I have always lost it soon after giving birth, that was no consolation to my self-esteem as I replayed my doctor’s words over and over again in my head that day:
“You’re only 23 weeks pregnant, and you’ve already gained 40 pounds.”
It had been weeks since I’d gotten on the scale at home. I tucked it away in an effort not to start every day in tears. But after learning from the doctor that at only halfway through my pregnancy I’d already gained nearly double the recommended weight, I felt crushed.
I am a true believer that beauty comes in every shape and size, but when your body changes drastically in a matter of weeks, it can be difficult to remember that those beliefs also apply to you.
I always thought I’d be the “cute” pregnant girl. And by that, I’m referring to the Hollywood stereotype of the woman who gains all her weight in her belly, wearing the same jeans throughout her entire pregnancy with no more than a rubber band to hold the button closed.
Like most women, I’ve flipped through the pages of magazines and seen pregnant celebrities walking around in their slender, designer fashions, while sporting a cute little baby bump under the headline: “Due Any Day.” I also decided I was perfectly capable of also being such an airbrushed pregnant beauty.
So I grabbed my free copy of Fit Pregnancy from the OB office and worked on keeping my abs toned. I religiously show up to the gym five times a week and come home to shun sweets and chug protein shakes mixed with vitamin powder. Yet, my body doesn’t seem to care.
I am gaining weight everywhere. I saw a picture of myself the other day and I legit had three chins; I’m not even sure how that’s possible. I have bright red stretch marks and feel the ache of my now four-cup-size-larger boobs pulling on my back. Last week, I packed away my size small maternity clothes and replaced them with size large. My arms, now double in size, recently got stuck in a once loose-fitting jacket. And when I ask my husband whether I’m getting fat, he replies, “Hon, you’re carrying our child, and you will lose all the weight later.”
That’s great and all, but right now I feel less like a Hollywood starlet, and more like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. And yes, I’m vain enough to say it sucks.
Then again, I’m logical enough to know that it’s all right. It really is. I know what I’m doing to stay healthy, and apparently, my body knows what my baby needs. Three pregnancies in, my physique has done the same thing every time without weight-related complications.
I’m getting heavier because I’m growing a baby. A healthy, loved human being that I am excited to meet. And even though I’m not feeling like I’m in the best physical state emotionally, I know there is a reason for what I’m going through. We talk so much about accepting our postpartum bodies because they are proof that we gave birth to life, but we don’t talk enough about loving our bodies while they create that life.
I barf. A lot. I have heartburn that could singe the hair off the person next to me, and my back is screaming as I write this. I love babies, but I don’t love pregnancy. I don’t love this out-of-control feeling where things are happening to me that I can’t seem to do anything about.
I don’t even recognize myself in the mirror and it’s a little bit scary. My entire physical existence is at the mercy of someone else. And it won’t stop here. I will continue to transform until I meet my new postpartum body … and then I will need to learn to love her, too.
It’s a lot to absorb, but oddly enough, I’m learning a valuable lesson about accepting myself. My body is taking care of me and my baby, even though it may not be happening in the maternity skinny jeans I had my eye on.
I only have four more months until I meet my new son, but four months is a long time when you aren’t comfortable in your own skin. So for now, I’m going to give myself a break.
I may not be the “tiny pregnant girl” I envisioned, but I am a beautiful one. My body is changing and stretching because it knows that it needs to make room for the baby inside. It may not be happening in the form that I would have liked, but breathing life into a child is something that has always been out of my control.
I’m heavy because I have the weight of responsibility on my shoulders right now. And let’s face it, creating life has never been a small task.