“Basically, your uterus and abs are just already stretched out”. That was the honest response I got from my doctor when I asked why I’m showing so early with my second pregnancy compared to my first.
I’m finding summer to be a difficult time to be pregnant. In the past, summer would be a chance for me to get a great tan, get out and be active (which leads to me being in better shape), and all around just feel better about my appearance. We all feel better tan, right?
Well, I’m now all too aware that my genetics and the sun do not mix well. Plus, sitting in the sun with an active toddler ends up not being “sitting” at all. More like chasing and making sure he doesn’t run into traffic. And the idea of a carefree day at the pool is, well, cute.
I’m way too tired to work out right now. Yes, I know that’s an excuse. Yes, I know exercise could actually help my energy level. So let me rephrase- I don’t want to work out right now.
There has been a lot of other changes, too. Like I used to spend as long as I wanted getting ready. Taking my sweet time. Doing my hair and makeup was actually a relaxing thing.
Now it’s a race to see if I can at least throw some mascara on before my son gets into the toilet. I also don’t like even touching my hair because it’s all falling out due to hormones. Literally. My. Hair. Is. Everywhere.
Here is the thing. My body, my face, my everything, is just different and will continue to change A LOT. And as much as the vain and worldly part of me freaks out and wants to hide, I know I’d take the babies and this life over my old body ANY day.
Honestly, I think what has bothered me the most about all this is that I even spend time and energy thinking about it. I preach this message to a lot of women, yet here I am struggling. I know in my heart I’ve never found true joy in how I looked, so why would that suddenly work for me now?
It’s those same old lies creeping in, trying to ruin me.
Recently, my husband has told me he thinks I’m more beautiful now than when we first met. Ughhh, yeah ok, buddy. When we met I was thin, fit and had all the time in the world to take care of myself.
The thing is though, when he says it, I think he really means it. I'm good at reading people, especially him. And somehow, he seems to be sincere.
I think he actually believes my mom bod and my mom hot-mess life are beautiful. I really don’t think he would choose the old me over this one.
Is he crazy? Yes. Visually impaired? I don’t think so.
But I’m reminded that “beauty” in our cultural context is different than ACTUAL beauty.
Actual beauty is not a body size or certain appearance. I believe that beauty shines in things and in people who have been touched by or behold in themselves love.
I believe love is the main ingredient in beauty.
Because when my husband looks at me, he isn’t calculating my jean size or my weight gain. He sees the love I hold and give to him and our child and the love he has for me. Truly, I don’t think he cares about my size. And if I’m completely honest with myself, I don’t think my family cares. I don’t think my friends care. No one who loves me cares. They accepted me long ago, not because of how I looked, but because of our connection and love for one another.
So maybe I can accept that, too.
I could thank my body instead of shame it. I could focus on the love I get to experience because of my body. Why not at least try?
My wish for this world is that a woman’s body could be removed of cultural standards. That it didn’t have to fit any categories or measurements. I can't even imagine the freedom we would feel if there was no pressure to "fit" a certain standard.
In particular, I wish the body of a mother would be celebrated for its ability to create, and for the miraculous things it can do or has done. Yes, actually celebrated... whether or not it ever looks like it once did.
I know how unrealistic that sounds with the way our appearance-obsessed-world is, but it needs to start somewhere. I’m going to start by reminding myself that my joy has never been found in my body size, but always in my love and connection for those around me and in God.
I will remind myself that the shameful thoughts I have are lies and I have the choice of believing them or not.
If you are struggling with a negative body image, whether it’s from pregnancy or not, you can also make this choice. Even right now, today. Even if your appearance is not how you want it to be. Choose gratitude for your body over shame.