On pregnancy and body image

I’ve always been little. Not necessarily in shape – actually, mostly not in shape – but little. I’m under 5’2″ and as an adult have averaged right around 110-115 pounds. In high school, I actually celebrated when my weight finally broke into the triple digits because even though I ate (and ate… and ate… and ate), I just didn’t put on any weight.

I’m not bragging here. I’m just pointing out that all my life, I’ve been small and have not ever had to diet or watch what I eat. I’ve always eaten what I wanted, as much as I wanted, and stayed small. I got some exercise in high school when I played volleyball and cheered, and I was always going for walks around town with my friends, but I’ve never been the type to work out or go to the gym, though I would go to the Rec Center with my roommate from time to time to get out of the apartment. I’m rambling now, but my point is that I’ve always been small and never really had to work at it.

June 3 - 14 weeks pregnant

And then I got pregnant.

Don’t get me wrong, I am over the moon excited and happy. But the thing about pregnancy is that you get larger than you were before you were pregnant. And sometimes, even though you know you’re pregnant and you know expanding outward comes with the territory, that idea can be a little hard to swallow.

“I’m getting fat”

I’m 17 weeks pregnant now, and the bump is starting to look more like a baby bump than a food bump. Which is great, really, because I’ve moved away from the “I’m getting fat!” and more toward the “Damn it, THOSE jeans don’t fit anymore either!”

Which can actually be pretty frustrating.

But the fact is that for awhile, there was a lot of the “I’m getting fat!”

P has been great through all of it. Without fail, he responded reassuringly. “You’re not fat, baby. You’re growing a baby – OUR baby! You’re beautiful!” It’s all very sweet, and I know I should take his comments to heart, but then I look in the mirror again, and my stomach – which doesn’t look very round or baby-filled – is overflowing over my jeans and the “I’m fat!” sneaks out of my mouth again.

And then there’s the situation with the boobs. Not only are jeans no longer fitting, but the bras. Oh, the bras. Some of my favorite bras have been shoved to the back of that dresser drawer in favor of some of  my other, not-so-favorite bras. It would be all fun and games if they were just growing, but they’re SORE. Like, all the time. Other moms and moms-to-be can vouch for me on this one: It’s just. not. comfortable.

“I’m never going to be little again”

It’s all just been very difficult for me. I went from indulging in all the cravings – nothing specific, just FOOD YES FOOD PLEASE NOW – to saying no to the cookie I so desperately want, and ordering a salad instead of the burger and fries. I’ve never done that before, never said no to junk food because it’s junk food. (I have, however, said no to junk food because I didn’t want it. There’s a big difference there.) I’ve never ordered a fucking salad because it’s healthier and less fattening. (I’ve always just ordered salads because that’s what I wanted to eat.)

But that’s exactly what I’m doing now, and all because I feel like I’m growing too much, too fast. (I KNOW. I’m pregnant. I’m going to get bigger. Please spare me the lecture in light of the fact that I am by no means starving myself or doing anything to harm the baby.) And maybe part of that is worry that I won’t fit into my wedding dress in three weeks (omg). And maybe part of it is worry that I won’t lose all the weight I put on (see above: not into exercise) even though P has very generously, graciously and sincerely offered to work out with me.

No pictures, please

When we first found out we were going to be parents (!!!), I was so sure I’d be taking the classic weekly belly photos. You know what I mean: same wall, same pose, same day of the week throughout the pregnant. But in reality, I’ve been avoiding the camera at all costs. I take that back – there have been two photos taken. The first is above, and that was taken mostly due to requests from Stephanie, Erin and Katherine on Twitter (and, okay, I like the shirt I was wearing). P took the other one, in our first and only attempt at the previously-mentioned weekly belly photos.

Because, well, I don’t feel like myself. Correction: I feel like a larger, more uncomfortable version of myself. And I don’t particularly want that caught on film (figuratively speaking, of course. Who uses film anymore?)

I’m not the only one who notices

It’s even getting to the point where other people – coworkers, mostly – are starting to notice my expansion. Comments like:

“You’re looking very pregnant today!”

“Oh my god, your boobs ARE getting huge!”

“Oh, you have a little belly! I like it!”

“It’s like she got pregnant over the weekend!”

I realize these comments might come off as a little rude here, but I promise they weren’t. They were actually pretty funny (especially the big boob one) and I laughed at every one, but then I get home and think about it: Other people are noticing, even when I thought I was dressed in a way when my tummy wouldn’t be so noticeable. I know it’s only going to get more common as December nears, so I know I’m going to have to get used to it… but that doesn’t make it any easier, you know?

And the moral of the story is?

Being pregnant is just a completely different experience than I thought it would be. It’s not all nursery planning and cutesy maternity clothes and indulging in delicious (or odd) food cravings. It’s been an almost constant upset stomach, some weird half heartburn/half nausea… thing. It’s wondering what kind of person our son/daughter will be, if we’re having a son or a daughter, and then almost having a panic attack worrying “How the hell am I supposed to teach this child to be a good human being when I’m constantly saying ‘Fuck this,’ ‘Fuck that,’ and ‘Fuck!’?” It’s going from excitement to terror in an instant.

It’s a learning experience.


5 thoughts on “On pregnancy and body image

  1. I can’t imagine the adjustment you’re going through. I’m sure it does quite a number on you mentally. I think you’re doing the right thing, when it comes to food. Definitely eat when you’re hungry, but try to pick healthy options. Indulge every once in a while, for sure. You’re beautiful. Try to enjoy this stage as much as you can, love.

    1. Thanks so much, Stac. It’s so weird, to think about what I thought pregnancy would be like, even in those first few weeks, as opposed to what it’s actually like. I’m doing my best, and I know I have it easy compared to some who have struggled with weight issues before getting pregnant, but it’s still difficult! 

  2. I love that you’re not denying yourself food. I know some pregnant mothers who have done that. And the healthier choices, those will come in handy if you’re focused on losing the weight fast after the baby, as well as making sure that the baby learns great eating habits!

    I wonder if the timing of the wedding has anything to do with the frustration about it. You’re not getting to just relax and enjoy the pregnancy the way that you hopefully will if there’s another time around!

    That picture is definitely a baby bump and not fat though. I can’t wait to see it get even bigger!

  3. These are all things I’ve wondered about and I’m glad you’re sharing them with us. While I don’t want kids, I’m still immensely curious about the pregnancy process and could see myself easily getting caught up in weigh-gain woes as well. It’s got to be such a crazy adjustment, raising a wee on in your belly, and then also planning for a wedding as well. You’re a rock star – do what feels right and remember that you’re beautiful. 

  4. I’m so jealous of you and your tiny-ness because you’re going to be one of those adorable, tiny pregnant woman who have a little, bowling-ball-sized bump and are skinny everywhere else. One of my pregnancy fears is that I’m going to get so huge, people are going to think, “Is she pregnant? Or is she just fat?” 😛

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