I knew that being pregnant, I’d get fat. I didn’t quite realise how fat, but I knew it was one of the (more obvious) symptoms of pregnancy.
Our friend from college, Dan, obliged and agreed to take some photos of us when my belly was a bit bigger. You can see some of Dan’s good work over at his website, Dan Au Photography (plug over). I spent the four weeks prior the shoot dreading it. Like I said earlier, I knew that being pregnant I’d get fat, but I didn’t realise how fat. I didn’t think my hips and thighs would get bigger. They did. The ridiculous exhaustion in my first two trimesters meant that I didn’t exercise very much, and the effects were obvious (at least to me!).
We get such conflicting (and noisy!) opinions about our bodies. And it seems that now, everybody feels they have the right to comment on my body. “You’re not showing” I was told when I was 14 weeks. When I was 19 weeks, it was “You’re huge!” The observations and the questions haven’t stopped. “Your boobs are so big!”; “your hips have grown”; “looks like you’re having a big baby!”; “don’t worry, if you breastfeed it will all come right off”; “your legs are swollen”. People (usually men) joke “oh wow, you’re getting fat”.
It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. And it makes me focus on the flaws in my body. When I get dressed, I check what bulges need to be smoothed, if my arms are flabby, my hips too broad, or my boobs too low, if I look fat.
And that’s just the feedback from friends. The pregnancy app on my iPhone, the magazines and books I’ve picked up and advertising everywhere screams conflicting messages at me. “love your body! It’s never been more amazing”, but then in the same breath “avoid those fattening cravings” and “how to get your pre-baby body back in 6 weeks!” The maternity bras I bought were advertised with pictures of flat stomached, big busted models.
I don’t want to care. I want to be in awe of what my body is doing at the moment. I want to be awed by my ability to grow another human life, to expand around it, to nourish it and nurture it. I want to be awed by the beauty of it – I really do think my baby belly is beautiful – and recognise the changes are all a result of grace – that God has allowed life to continue, even after the rebellion. I want to enjoy my pregnancy and the changes that it brings.
So we had our photoshoot. I had changed my mind about 7,348 times about what to wear that week, but that morning I was tired and couldn’t be bothered . Dan did a great job at making us feel comfortable and natural, but even more importantly I came to a huge realisation. I was only going to be pregnant with my first child once. Ever. This was only going to be new to me once. Ever. And I want to remember it – the thrill of watching my belly grow and dance. The love and joy husbandsylv and I share as this new life grows inside. And especially the bumps and sags and wobbles, because they’re not going to be around forever.