So I promised myself I’d learn to love this pregnant body.
I’m afraid that has not happened.
My pregnancy with Finn was difficult in every way imaginable. Looking back, I most certainly was depressed. I was terribly anemic from five months of lost blood, I was angry and spiritually I was hanging on by a thread. I cried myself to sleep many nights and sometimes heard the sobs of my sweet husband on the pillow next to me. We grieved over the dreams we had for Finn before he was even born. I was desperate, but the Lord was so near to me in that sorrow. “You are closer than my trouble/More present than any danger,” Thank you, Charlie Hall. Thank you, Jesus.
I was unable to work out for five months of that pregnancy, and by the time I was “cleared,” I had learned of Finn’s Spina Bifida, wasn’t sleeping, and was so physically weak and exhausted, I couldn’t exercise if I wanted to. To add to my declining health, I also allowed myself “treats” that were otherwise off-limits. Root beer, Sonic drinks, burgers, Braum’s peanut butter malts (for the love!) and many a Dara Marie cookie. Maybe these delights made my heart ache a little less in the moment. Whatever.
This pregnancy with Paisley has been so different. I did not bleed, I’ve been able to work out (even run up until 20ish weeks), lift weights, I’ve eaten more fruits and veggies, and my ultra-sounds show an active and healthy baby girl. I’m happy. But I’m also bigger. And the scale shows I’m consistently about 10 lbs. heavier than I was with Finn–ten pounds on my frame makes a big difference. I guess I didn’t believe the ole’ “you’re larger quicker with your second baby” story. Maybe true for you, but not for me. I’m a fitness professional, for heaven’s sake. These rules don’t apply to me. 😉
Whether I lost muscle during my first pregnancy and gained muscle this time around or whether it’s true that you are fatter with a girl than with a boy doesn’t matter. You don’t care about my personal struggle with my changed body and I don’t blame you. I shouldn’t care either.
But I’ll be honest: it bothers me. So much of my career and how I identify myself is intertwined with my body. How it feels. How it responds to nutrition. How strong it is. What I can do with it. How it looks.
I read an article by a pregnant celebrity while waiting in the doctor’s office during my second trimester. I honestly don’t remember who is was, but I recall she had a brain. She discussed how she had grown to love and accept her changing body. How she nurtured it, listened to it, smiled at her naked self in the mirror and fed it accordingly–much like how one would with a kitten or baby chick. I read her story and longed for that kind of acceptance of myself. I prayed for it.
It still hasn’t happened.
I just don’t like being pregnant. I have friends who will say they feel best when they’re pregnant. It’s the most magical time of their lives. They are fulfilling their calling. They feel optimal. I admire these women, but I can’t relate to their beautiful sentiments in the least bit.
Nonetheless, I acknowledge the beautiful and undeserved blessing of motherhood. I am fully aware that many of my nearest and dearest girlfriends would DIE to feel the aches and pains of pregnancy and would trade my swollen belly for their barren one in a heartbeat. Pregnancy is a gift. A MIRACLE. And I am thankful. Truly.
I decided something yesterday on my walk with Finn and the black dog: if I can’t find a way to love my body during this last month of carrying Paisley around on my torso, I will at least shift my focus away from myself. That’s what parenting is all about, right!? Selflessness.
The first lesson Joey and I learned in the NICU with Finn was self.less.ness. I was no longer my first thought. Finn was. And now Paisley must be. So when I feel her literally jumping on my bladder and strumming my ribs with her precious little feet, I will pray she’s comfortable, growing strong and being molded into the lovely woman the Lord intends her to become.
Now is a good time to be selfless. This pregnancy is not about me. It’s not really my body. And this is not my life. I am His.
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (ESV, Acts 20:24).