I recently read an article titled, “What You’ll Miss About Being Pregnant.” At 38 weeks pregnant, it’s hard to believe I’ll miss anything about being pregnant considering that I’m now waddling around like a penguin at the zoo, spending more times making trips to the bathroom in the night than actually being asleep in bed and having to wear a belly support band just to do a load of laundry! Not to mention dropping a dirty sock on the floor and taking a good 5 minutes to get it off of the ground and into the washer. I’m quickly forgetting what it is like to be able to easily complete my daily activities of living. Let’s just say that, at this stage, I’m not really sure that I’ll miss being pregnant.
However, I am very grateful for a healthy, safe and smooth pregnancy this far. I’m thankful for a willing and able body that is able to carry and nourish a child and little waves of movement in my belly that remind me of the precious life inside my womb that we will soon get to meet.
This article that I read mentioned how you might miss baby’s kicks when you are no longer pregnant. I can see that being the case considering that there is something so special and intimate about being able to feel this little guy squirm around and get a case of the hiccups almost nightly. The precious moments of my husband being able to place his hand on my belly and feel his son bouncing around, almost as if we are getting a glimpse of his little personality before he makes his entrance into the world. These days, some of my baby’s movements feel more like a punch to the gut, an uninvited guest or an alien invasion to my body, but nonetheless, I could see how I might miss these moments.
What struck a nerve in reading this article was when it said that you’ll miss eating whatever you want. Something in that sentence sends an unspoken message that, under usual circumstances, we should not be eating whatever we want and that pregnancy is this “get by free” pass for actually allowing yourself to eat foods you enjoy. I find it sad, really. The fact that some people actually believe the cultural lies saying that we can only savor foods on particular occasions or during specific seasons of our lives such as pregnancy. The societal fear that if we actually allowed ourselves to eat whatever we want then we’d only be contributing to the obesity epidemic. People don’t usually stop to think that maybe because we don’t allow ourselves to eat whatever we want we are contributing to the obesity epidemic by triggering the “last supper” mentality, binge eating episodes and other disordered behaviors that are far from normalized eating patterns.
The article mentions the idea of not feeling guilty after eating when you’re pregnant, again indicating that, at other times in our lives, food should be a moral situation and feeling shame for eating a “bad” food is the cultural norm. Why does this have to be the case? The principles of intuitive eating include satisfaction, the idea of actually finding pleasure in the foods that we eat. Research even shows that we tend to eat less when we find satisfaction in our meals. I think there’s something to that. Part of intuitive eating is also learning how to listen to and honor our bodies’ internal cues while properly responding and nourishing ourselves. This is part of body respect and self-care, not the “If I eat whatever I want, I’ll just let myself go” mentality that our society so often believes to be the case.
The article continues to list things that you’ll miss like playing the pregnancy card, which I admit, I’ve recently started taking advantage of. I’m now wondering why I waited until so late into my pregnancy to use this magical tool! I think my pride got the best of me and I tried to do so many things on my own and prove to myself and others that I was just as capable and active as I had always been. Then one night I tried out this card on my husband by asking him to get me something to drink from the kitchen, not because I couldn’t do it myself or didn’t feel well, but simply because I was testing the waters with this card. And just like that a drink appeared without me even having to lift a finger. Magical! With only two weeks left until my due date, I now find myself ending most sentences to my husband with, “But I’m pregnant….” So yes, I’d say this part of pregnancy will definitely be missed. I hear there is a mom card you can play too, so I’m looking forward to that!
What really stopped me in my tracks while reading this article was when it mentioned that one of the things you will miss about pregnancy is body confidence. I literally had to re-read this to make sure I had seen it correctly. Unfortunately, I had. I have spent 23 years of my life at war with my body. For the majority of my time on earth, I have not practiced body kindness, body respect or appropriate self-care. I have fought to alter my appearance, change my shape and control a number on the scale. With a lot of work, growing, learning and submersing myself in the professional field of eating disorders, I have come to such a peaceful place with my body and, thankfully, I’ve remained there for the past 6 years. Of course there was an initial fear with finding out I was pregnant. “How will I emotionally respond to my body changing so rapidly?” “Will this pregnancy rock the boat with my current relationship with my body?” Though it hasn’t always been easy observing the rapid body changes that take place during pregnancy, this experience has been a lot more of a positive one than I would have imagined. I’ve gained more than just pregnancy weight; I’ve gained a true appreciation for what my body can do and the fact that it is working for me, never against me. So I will say that in some regards, body confidence has continued in pregnancy, but I definitely do not believe this is something that has to end when a woman has her baby. Who says you should miss being confident in your body after pregnancy? Why not continue to be confident in the amazing truth that your body knows how to slowly adjust back to a non-pregnant state by shrinking the uterus, adjusting hormonal levels and now producing breast milk for the purpose of nourishing your newborn. It blows my mind how miraculous our bodies are and how wonderfully we are created for carrying a baby in pregnancy. Yet we are so quick to forget all our bodies have done for us just as soon as the baby comes. It’s like we switch gears and immediately go to, “I’ve got to get my pre-pregnancy body back!” or “I hate these stretch marks!” or “My boobs aren’t as perky as they used to be.” Like maybe the girls are hanging a little lower than you’d like these days, but my goodness they nourished a child on their way down! How amazing is that! It’s like pregnancy is this amazing body experience and then the clock strikes twelve, the baby is born and we go back to bashing our bodies and hating ourselves? So quickly we forget what our bodies just did for us, how God created us to be.
I am not naïve to think that this will not be a learning curve for me. I know that I will come across obstacles after the birth of my son that will challenge my thoughts and beliefs about my body and I am fully aware, that if I am not careful to take those thoughts captive and replace them with truth, that I could quickly find myself going back to an all too familiar place of self-loathing and body bashing. My intentions are to take each day as it comes post-partum and to continue caring for myself by nourishing my body and participating in joyful movement. I know this may take on a different form during this new season of my life as I adjust to motherhood, but self-care and mental health will continue to be a priority.
I was at Target last week picking up a couple items to pack in my hospital bag from our “Hospital Packing List” we were given in our childbirth class. (I wonder how many first time moms like me take this all too seriously and then by the next child wait until labor to throw a bag together) While at Target, I came across the women’s clothing section filled with bright spring time colors and adorable ruffled and laced blouses. Now that I’m down to about 4 maternity outfits that still fit comfortably I was very tempted to stop and browse and pick up a couple new items for the summertime. I decided this may not be the best thing for me to do considering that I might not be the exact same clothing size post-partum and soaking in the truth that my body may settle in a little different place or set-point weight than it did prior to my pregnancy. Instead of having to take back clothes that may not end up fitting me appropriately, I decided that it would be better for my mental state and emotional well being to wait and see what my body does after labor and then to, one day, head back to the store and shop for that body…not the body I used to have or hope to have. So as tempting as it was to stop and browse, I kept on sorting through the less than sexy wireless nursing bras and headed to the aisle where the Depends are kept. Oh how life has changed.
My pregnancy is drawing near an end and I am close to meeting my little baby boy. I’m excited, scared, nervous and experiencing all of the feels at this point. I’m grateful for a smooth and healthy pregnancy and am hopeful for a safe delivery. I am also optimistic that I may step into this new season of life and the unknowns of motherhood with the mindset of allowing myself to eat whatever I want in a way that truly honor’s my body’s cravings and nourishes me at the same time and with a newfound respect for my body and what it has done for me. A humble body confidence that outlasts 40 weeks of pregnancy and continues on to the next phase of whatever life may bring.