The Chronicles of Alien Development (Week 14)— Baby Bump

I get this dude. He and I have something in common. We have bellies.

His is a pride-inducing rotund monument to gluttony. Mine is somewhere between a muffin top and an amorphous ballooning of everything from shoulder to hip.

I do not think this can be called a “baby bump.” Those are lovely little basketball-shaped protrusions that clearly announce the budding life inside. I’m feeling more like that woman you want to tactfully bar from a third helping of Christmas cookies. Side bar — I almost ate icing out of a spray can at a holiday party last weekend. In my pregnancy brain, that was considered “classy Christmas cheer.”

I’m clearly a little distraught over the state of my expanding body. This is made worse by the fact that just yesterday I conceded that I could not stomach (pun intended) wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans for 5 hours despite being able to juuuuussssttt eek the button closed. Why have I never realized how all of my pants zip, button, snap, ride, elasticize right over the most uncomfortable part of my belly? I bought my first pair of maternity workout pants this week, and can I just say…MONEY! God bless the pregnant woman who figured out that a massive elastic band that goes over your entire abdomen would be WAY more comfortable. She deserves a medal…or a pizza.

I’ve always struggled to love the body I’m in (The Defiance of Fat). Ironically, I finally got to a good place right before I got pregnant. I even wore a bikini, in public, like on a beach, in the daylight. Of course, five days later I realized I was knocked up, so good riddance to that! I think that may be why I’m having such a hard time now. I finally liked my pre-pregnancy body after two years of fighting with it. I wonder if I just didn’t have enough time in it before having to let it go again.

Don’t get me wrong. I worked my ass off to lose weight, gain muscle, and return to bad-assdom with the specific intention of helping us get pregnant. I guess it worked a little too well. But now that I’m spreading, literally, I’ve lost that confidence.

Why is that space so fleeting for women? Why can’t we take root in the body that serves us daily without constantly asking it to be smaller, stronger, sexier? My body is healthy. My doctor says so. My burgeoning belly is carrying our child. My husband loves it. Why can’t I?

To me, this is not about dishonoring the privilege it is to be pregnant. I in no way begrudge our alien for these changes to my body. In fact, I sincerely hope I can get over myself to enjoy the beauty inherent in having a body strong enough to create and hold life inside itself. This is about the long-standing love/hate relationship I’ve always had with a body that has done right by me for most of my life and yet still cannot find its way in to my good graces.

This is also not about hormones. If so, I’ve had an abnormally high level of hCG from the time I was 11 years old on. This is about being able to undress without immediately diving in to an oversized sweatshirt and pajama pants. This is about being able to walk to the shower without copiously avoiding the reflection from any and all mirrored surfaces. This is about loving the skin I’m in, to be incredibly cliche, but accurate.

Sadly, I am not alone. Apparently, 52% of women said pregnancy made them feel more insecure about their body. This is disheartening at a time in one’s life when our body should be celebrated like the fucking Temple of Awesomeness it is. It’s also downright dangerous for those with a history of disordered eating. As a teenage anorexic myself, I feel that tug at the back of my brain, that desperation to slow down the scale despite knowing the weight gain is normal and even necessary.

Bodies grow. And shrink. They carry life. And metabolize cupcakes. They are meant to be worshiped. Not whipped.

I’m grateful for my body. And my belly. I think it needs to hear that. I think I need to say it, even if I don’t fully mean it yet. I may only do this pregnancy thing once, and I’d hate to look back on it knowing I spent the entire time worried I was fat.

Instead, I want to honor my body. Just don’t ask me to bare my belly on a street corner. I’d rather you hand me a can of icing. And shake one for yourself too. There’s a party happening inside my belly, and I have a case of FOMO, so let’s do this thing up right, and I’ll go to the gym tomorrow. My body will thank me. My belly will too.