The other night, I paused for a moment before hopping in the shower. (Since becoming a mom, my daily showers have been pushed to night time — a huge time-saver in the morning.)
Four months pregnant with our fourth child, I surveyed what I am all too guilty of thinking of as the “damage” of what children, genetics, and a fondness for baked goods have done to my body. I like exercising and actually look forward to my daily escape on the elliptical, but unless I dedicated a huge portion of my life and time to it, there ain’t no way this mama is ever looking like the “no excuses mom.” Because the truth is, I have plenty of excuses, most of which are totally valid for my life.
But as I looked over my broadening belly, bigger than it ever has been at this stage in the game (which I’m told is normal for a fourth pregnancy), breasts that are actually kind of scary in their size, and the inevitable thickening of my thighs that has occurred with every pregnancy, I felt myself grow pretty despondent.
Because the truth is, I don’t feel sexy.
I don’t feel sexy at all.
The thing is, there seems to be a lot of pressure on women these days to constantly “feel” sexy, no matter what. So we don’t all look like Maria Kang, right? No biggie — you still need to love your body and feel sexy! Feeling sexy = more sex with your man = better relationship.
Feeling sexy is about more than the perfect body and a swoon-worthy romp in the sack, people!
And while I definitely agree with that sentiment, I also think that we all have our different ideals for what “sexy” looks like. We have lingerie, we have romantic evenings, we have passionate make-out sessions. Those ideals we look to help us feel sexy in a way.
But for pregnancy?
That vision of “sexy” gets a little blurry.
Sure, the boobs might be there, but let’s face it — they’re also kind of scary. There’s no flat stomach; heck, there’s no way I can even stretch out seductively on my stomach with a “come hither” look. Instead, there’s awkwardness navigating around a baby bump, there’s nights that start out with the best of romantic intentions that wind up with inadvertent snoring on the couch, there’s a process of body acceptance that doesn’t change whether it’s your first or fourth pregnancy.
Without any sexy fallbacks, or sexy ideals present in pregnancy, I’ve found that intimacy really takes on a different look.
Sexy for me right now means time to exercise to feel good about my body.
Sexy for me means catching my husband sneaking glimpses at my baby bump, shaking his head in wonder that there’s (another) baby in there.
Sexy for me means an understanding husband who tells me I’m beautiful no matter what and never, ever makes me feel badly for a dry spell during pregnancy.
Sexy means laughing at the one time I tried pregnancy lingerie, because really, there is just no way to make that look good on me.
How intimacy changed during pregnancy might be a difficult road to navigate for some couples. Every woman will experience pregnancy differently, and every woman’s drive and self-image will be different too. Much like the journey that lies ahead, the changes in intimacy are a crash course in how a baby changes everything about life.
But I’m also finding that those changes…
Aren’t necessarily bad.