I ripped my jeans the other day.
Okay, so technically they ripped at the seam holding the maternity band and the jeans together AND they ripped before during my first pregnancy because I wore them so often AND the stitching really wasn’t that great to begin with. But still, there’s nothing worse than hearing a riippp as you are pulling up your maternity pants halfway through your pregnancy, knowing you still have a ways to go. My heart sank just a little bit and I couldn’t help but thinking “Geez, is my rear really that big already?” (disclaimer: I thought a different word that started with “a” and rhymes with “sass”)
Being pregnant is a mind trip for me, especially when it comes to my body image. I have always been really, really lucky in that I could eat whatever I wanted, exercise as little as possible and still maintain a somewhat small frame. In the past, I would credit my genes and also my Type-A, constantly nervous personality. The fact that I had a job that ran me ragged mentally and physically also helped.
During my first pregnancy, I went through stages of mourning when the weight started coming on. First, I was like “Oh my gosh I can’t believe this is happening!” Then, I was like “F- that, I don’t care what the numbers say, I’m growing a baby for goodness sake! I will love my body, dammit!” And near the end I was like “Am I ever going to be small again?” And honestly, thank God Kate Middleton (I know she’s technically the Duchess of Cambridge but I’ll stick to my American ways and call her by her maiden name)…anyway, thank GOD she had her baby before I did and bravely showed the world what every other mother on the face of the planet knew already: It takes 40 weeks to grow a baby and it’s going to take some time for your body to recover. Don’t expect to be super thin when you walk out of the hospital.
So, I kind of sorta knew that I wasn’t going to be small right away. But then one month passed. And another month passed. And I knew the weight was starting to come off (thank you, breastfeeding!) and I started to feel a little more confident. Hey, I thought, maybe my old jeans will fit after all! So I mustered up the guts to try on my favorite pair of Lucky Brand jeans (size 27 thankyouverymuch). And you know what? I couldn’t even fit the jeans past my thighs. I was mortified. Literally mortified. Of course, little did I comprehend or appreciate that the primary reason they wouldn’t fit was because my hips were still wider than usual for PUSHING A BABY OUT OF MY YOU-KNOW-WHAT. But at that moment, I felt all hope was lost. I packed up all of my pre-pregnancy clothes. All of them, like three huge bags worth, and gave them to my younger sister. I was convinced she would be able to wear everything and that I would never see my favorite jeans again.
After that day, I stopped thinking about how my body had changed. It was more of a sad, reserved acceptance that things had changed and that it was not worth it for me to even think about what I used to look like because it would never be that way again. Yes, that is a bit dramatic, but by telling myself to forget about it and move on, I actually did move on with my life. I went out and bought some clothes that fit better and eventually returned to work with a slightly updated wardrobe.
About six months after having Bernadette, I noticed that all of my new clothes weren’t fitting like they used to. They were baggier in places that used to be tight. I eventually mustered up the guts to ask my sister for a few of my clothes back, just to see if they would fit again (only to find out she had a feeling I would, and that she had kept all the clothes in storage). And sure enough, just like that, I was able to fit into my old jeans.
The female body is fascinating and super strange at the same time. It boggles my mind that we were literally created to stretch and grow in ways that are completely unimaginable to be able to provide life to another human being. All of these thoughts and memories have been flooding back to me now that I am pregnant with #2. Of course, the flood is more like a flash flood during moments I least expect…like when I am super exhausted in the middle of the day and my toddler wants to go outside, or when I’m getting dressed and my pants suddenly rip.
It makes me sad that most of the noise we hear about the female body is negative. We are trained to care about our appearance because that’s what society seems to care most about. There are countless articles about being thin, being too thin, being overweight, caring more about your muscle strength than your weight, eating right, not eating enough, overeating, blah, blah, blah. This noise is so ingrained in our everyday lives that I still deal with it, even though I know that (a) I’m creating a new life and all these changes are normal and (b) I will eventually return to a slightly modified version of my old self. There doesn’t seem to be nearly as much conversation about the wonders that one goes through when becoming a mom until someone has already crossed over the threshold into motherhood. I wonder, if the noise turned more positive and more informative, would those young women who worry so much about their size and how they look view themselves differently? I know I would have.
So hear me out, all you ladies out there…you are gorgeous. You might not feel that way all the time, but know that I see you and I hear you. And you are loved. Let’s hold each other up, let’s marvel in our awesomeness and maybe, just maybe, we will start believing the truth: we are beautiful, just the way we are.