The last time I was pregnant, I didn't get to have a big belly. As I sleepwalked through life in the following weeks and months, I'd look at other pregnant women with big pregnant bellies and feel strangling envy. I couldn't believe I wouldn't get to the point where I waddled, and struggled to sit down, and get up. Where my belly restricted my ability to bend down to pick things up, and kept me from seeing my feet.
By some miracle, I'm pregnant again, and I finally have that big belly I dreamed about through my all-consuming grief. So why can't I embrace it? Why do I feel huge and gross, and guilty that I'm not 100 percent grateful for the size of my bump?
After my loss, I swore if I was lucky enough to get pregnant again, I'd love every second of it, especially the part when I got all big and breathless. But now that my life consists of stretchy pants, and having to sit down every couple of hours, I find myself missing the non-pregnant me.
I'll wake up in the morning and think, "Still huge." Sigh. I often wish everyday tasks like making beds, and giving my preschooler a bath didn't leave me with back pain. I count in my head how many weeks of pregnancy I have left, and worry that my big belly will keep growing to the point that I'll be wider than I am tall. I've been pretty down on how I look, constantly examining the growing girth of my hips, and searching for signs of burgeoning stretch marks across my ribs.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? So now I hope to shift my focus, and accept, and even love my body as it grows and stretches. I want to stop obsessing about my disappearing waistline, and whether I'm eating too much, and remember how darn fortunate we are that a new life has graced ours. I want to marinate on the fact that I have the means to nourish this baby, a privilege some moms-to-be are not afforded.
More than anything I have to remind myself what the alternative to a big belly is: An awful, unthinkable hell I've already experienced. Yearning for a baby who isn't there, and won't grow.
I shared some of these thoughts on Facebook recently, and the result was an inpouring of comments telling me I didn't look that big. But I swear sharing this is not a ploy for compliments! How I look to others isn't necessarily relevant, although it helps when people say I look good. But as any woman who has been pregnant knows, watching your body grow and change daily isn't easy.
It's easier than losing your pregnancy, though. And that's the point. I hope this post will serve as a reminder to anyone else who is beating themselves up for how much weight they've gained while pregnant. Or for indulging in a craving. Or for just seeing their big belly take its natural course during pregnancy. Remember: Being pregnant is a miracle, and we should focus more on that than on our current physical limitations, or the number on the scale. I say this as much for myself as for another person!
Here's hoping I will cut down on any negative thoughts about my bump, and do what I dreamed about: Cherish my big belly, and wear it with pride! Won't you join me?
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.