I gave some background about the struggles I am talking about today in yesterday’s post. If you missed it, I would encourage you to read that post before continuing on.
The hardest thing about pregnancy has been embracing my changing body. Nine months ago, I had complete control of my appearance. I could work out whenever and however I wanted. I could eat what and how I wanted. After years of being in a roller coaster relationship, full of ups and downs and loop-de-loops, with my body I would have characterized our relationship as healthy. But I’ve come to realize that healthy has been a euphemism for control. I like being in control. I feel good about myself when I’m in control.
Pregnancy has taken the control right out of my hands and exposed the complicated network of issues I still struggle with. As James grew, I grew, and so did the insecurities that hovered just below the surface of my controlled exterior. I’m writing without having been fixed, without having come out on the other side of these insecurities yet. I’m still in the mess, but am not without hope.
Numbers… I’m still a slave to the numbers. My pant size can make me do the happy dance and it can send me spiraling into the blues. The same goes for my weight. I dread the beginning of each OB appointment because of the numbers that will stare back at me from that electronic scale. I make a point of kicking off my shoes, shedding any extra clothing, and emptying my bladder before being weighed, just to shave off a few ounces. I know weight gain is inevitable, but it’s been difficult to see numbers rise higher and higher every month.
Identity… Being pregnant is such an in-between stage. I don’t have a baby in my arms yet, but I’m not my normal unhindered self. My body has been a continuing reflection of a new stage, a new role that I wasn’t quite prepared for in the first place. As my waist line expanded, I grieved the loss of being young and unencumbered. I didn’t realize how much I associated my body image with my season of life. My physical shape is a barrier to the image I so enjoyed embodying (adventurous, newlywed, with no strings attached). The changes in my body are ever hinting at a major life change that still scares me poopless sometimes.
Appearance… I just don’t look the same. I wasn’t always happy with how I looked pre pregnancy, but I definitely liked my appearance more then than now. My arms are softer and my legs have lost their tone. My love handles have grown and my face is more full. I feel unattractive and I miss my pre pregnancy physique. I’ve lost my edge in the beauty battle because I’m round and pregnant (utter shame here for making beauty a competition).
Future… I worry about never fitting into my pre pregnancy clothes again. What if I have to get rid of all my jeans and start from scratch because I failed at slimming back down. What if Tim doesn’t find me as attractive post pregnancy as he did when we first got married? What if I don’t have the will power to eat healthy and get back in shape?
I’ve been struggling with letting go of my non-mom identity and the physical ideal I can’t hold up as a pregnant woman. When my value is in physical appearance and numbers, I will always be striving, striving to fit into the world’s ideal. When I’m in that mode, I become focused on how to keep climbing the physical ladder. I obsess about being the prettiest person Tim sees every day (my perception, not his), which immediately sets me up for failure, disappointment, and a whole slew of negative self talk. All of which serves to sadden my Creator and alienate me from my husband and those I’m judging and comparing myself to.
There are so many aspects of this season that require grace, rest, contentment, and perseverance. Pregnancy is so much more than carrying around your developing child for 40 weeks. The trials go deeper than morning sickness, aches and pains. It’s a mental, emotional, and spiritual trial that can only be meant to make us more like Jesus.
Thanks for letting me be candid about these struggles. I am very much in process and I realize postpartum is going to be a whole new process in itself.
For further reading:
- 7 ways to embrace your pregnancy body
- a review of Trina Holden’s Embracing Beauty: practical style for every shape and season of motherhood
What’s been the hardest thing for you about pregnancy?