It’s a terrible feeling. Staring at the mirror day after day, not looking at my face but staring at all other parts, wishing that this was smaller or that was tanner or this was flatter. You should go to the gym more, I would tell myself. You shouldn’t be eating that, my inner critic would scream at family dinners. Your face looks a lot better if you wear more make-up, she would say. I would say I’ve spent the majority of my teenage to adult years being body insecure. I fear this is the song of many adolescent girls in America.
There was one year, one great year, that I lost thirty pounds and felt amazing, beautiful, unstoppable. I was at the gym most days of the week, ate well, and carried myself proudly. Then once I settled into marriage and a job that started creating anxiety, the lbs started sneaking back up on me and my old friend, insecurity, returned. The compliments I received never seemed to stick. They were something I just could not believe.
Today, my belly is starting to get bigger, and I’ve never been so excited. The contradiction of my excitement over growing bigger and wanting to gain enough weight often makes me giggle. The idea that our baby is growing strong and healthy and is starting to create a body shape I’ve never experienced is a feeling that I wasn’t prepared for. I still my (hormonal) down days, but overall I experience a host of positive emotions—joy, excitement, love. I often feel overwhelmed, but am okay with that, too.
I now stare into the mirror, not looking at my thighs but at my belly, hoping that it has grown, that today might be the day I start looking like a pregnant woman. I don’t worry now about my size or the muscle tone of my limbs, I only worry about eating right for the developing baby.
I look at my face and see a different person looking back at me. I feel calmer and more collected. I’m no longer wound so tight or so anxious. I don’t worry as much about crumbs or spills. I’ve even been causing a few myself due to some newfound clumsiness.
I wear less make-up these days. I don’t feel the need to put on the same mask I wore when I was younger. I am okay with letting myself shine through. I feel like I’m evolving as a person, a female, a woman.
I know that this may change. I read about how women in their third trimester start to experience discomfort and pains. I hear about how women in their final weeks just want the baby to come. I don’t know how I will feel months from now, but I hope that I am able to read this and recall the feelings of positivity and excitement that will carry me through those tough days.
I hope that, many months from now, I am able to wear my badges of motherhood proudly. I hope that I am able to carry myself with pride and not embarrassment. Creating a new life from the most basic cellular level is an incredible experience and nothing short of a miracle. I still plan to lose the weight and exercise and eat healthy. I want to be the fittest mom that I can be. But I pray that I can hold onto this newfound woman. She is secure, she is proud, she is beautiful. She is the me I always wanted to be.