Sometimes I forget I’m pregnant. I’ll be trodding through my day, mind consumed with something else, and then he’ll kick. And he kicks hard. I think my son is destined to be a tap dancer, or a marathon runner, or maybe a mall cop. He seems created for movement because this boy loves to jive. But feeling him in motion connects my body and mind with the little life inside of me. Otherwise, I just feel fat.
My back aches, my feet hurt, my hips are the width of two football stadiums and I don’t even want to discuss what’s going on ‘down there’. Pregnancy basically feels like I’m getting sick and fatter all at once—at an accelerated rate. There is less ‘glowing’ than I expected. At least now I look undeniably pregnant. I used to just look kinda chubby.
I know I drive Gabriel crazy with my insecurity. “Am I fat?” “Don’t look at my legs.” “Will I ever have a flat stomach again??!” These are words I am ashamed to say have flown out of my mouth often. Maybe it’s because we weren’t trying to get pregnant. Or maybe it’s somehow attached to the emotional turmoil I’m dealing with after the assault. I know a lot of survivors have issues loving their bodies. It’s hard to feel comfortable in my body when I constantly remember what has happened to it. Either way, I never thought I’d feel so unattractive when I became a vessel for new life. I thought it would be majestic. I thought I would feel motherhood shining splendidly from my being—but mostly I feel like a walrus with a sex drive of a koala.
All of this panic about weight gain is revealing an ugliness in me that wasn’t hidden too far beneath the surface. It’s clear to me how much of my identity and self worth was derived from feeling attractive. I was a theatre performance major at university and I was rather successful in school productions. I told myself over and over again that I earned all the parts I was given, but in my heart I always feared I got the role because I ‘looked the part.’ I feel like my one unshakable attribute has been taken from me and it’s hard to imagine being successful again. That I associate the size of my waist with how successful I can be doesn’t exactly surprise me, but I wish it wasn’t true. I call myself a feminist. I even claim to be an intellectual, yet I find myself standing in front of the mirror, wide eyed in horror counting the stretch marks.
I have had some beautiful moments admiring my growing belly. Feeling our baby dance around in my tummy is glorious. Christmas music really gets his feet moving. And I cannot wait to meet my son, but insecure moments seem to outweigh the glowing mommy moments. I’m sure I’m not the only soon-to-be mother who is less than excited about her changing body, but in the end we will all give birth to little humans we can call our own. Some women blossom into pinterest-worthy pregnant goddesses, and some of us feel a little occupied, blindsided and bloated.