My body, that I hated (a reflection on my body during pregnancy)

Unfortunately, two of my relatives are in the hospital right now. Yesterday I went to go see them both, and at one of the hospitals you had to go through a metal detector before entering. My mom quickly freaked out on the security guard when it was my turn to go through, shouting “she can’t go through there! She’s pregnant!” The (completely flustered) guard apologized and said that of course I didn’t have to go through and that I hadn’t looked pregnant to him. I mumbled a ‘thanks,’ and gave an awkward explanation that I’m pretty sure going through a metal detector is fine when you’re pregnant.

This interaction got me thinking about all of the things people, and myself, had said about my body since becoming pregnant. The comments have ranged from genuine disbelief that I could be pregnant (‘You don’t look pregnant at all! You’re so tiny!) to strangers asking me how far along I am, to my friends and family gaping at “how big” I’m getting so fast.

At 5 months pregnant, some days I look in the mirror and think, yes, definitely pregnant. But other days I look at my body and see something else. What I’ve really begun to notice is that the way I feel about my bump, and my body, tends to fluctuate with the last comment someone has said about it.

When someone says I’m barely showing I feel bummed that I don’t look pregnant enough. When someone comments some other woman they know is 5 months pregnant and isn’t nearly as big as me, I become self-conscious that maybe I’m gaining too much too fast. And when someone says that I have the cutest bump? Well that just makes my day.

I don’t like that their comments have such an effect on me. I know that recognizing this is happening is a good first step in stopping this see-saw of self-worth though, so I’m giving myself some credit for that. I’m trying to remind myself to come back to center. To focus on the way my body feels, the things it is doing to grow this baby, and to accept the fact that it needs to get bigger and fuller to do this well. Pregnancy is definitely a lesson in letting go in that way.

I wrote this poem last night after reflecting on all of the mixed reactions by strangers and family on my changing body:

This body, that I hated

This body, that I hated

That curved and dipped when it should have laid straight.

That smoothed where it should have rounded.

That pushed against buttons, and zippers, and stretchy dresses with not enough stretch.

That had been much too much and not enough, depending on the day or the latest trend.

This body, I hated

That softens and cradles

That nourishes and waters

That protects and grows

This body,

This body

This body, that I hated

Holds more love than I know what to do with