There are exactly four pictures in existence of my first pregnancy. And in an age of Instagramming the bump (#34weeks #bumpdiaries #howcutedoesthismaternitydresslook #onme), that’s pretty abnormal.
For those last few months when not just my belly, but my thighs, my butt, my boobs, and even my chins were extra round, I fled from cameras.
While expecting my first baby, it was a gift pregnancy I wasn’t anticipating. Plus, I was a newlywed, barely used to my husband seeing my bare body when it started swelling beyond my control and suddenly teams of doctors, nurses and midwives were privy to parts of me that used to be completely private. It was a dramatic shift for a modest church girl.
Pregnancy seems to dredge up insecurities and lies that are easier to brush to the side when your body isn’t flooded with all the hormones it takes to create a tiny human.
Along with the normal waves of emotion, pregnancy brought a shame that made me want to curl up in a cave and hide from humanity.
It was more than just body shame or embarrassment. It stretched into a fear of people – what they might be thinking and how they were probably judging me. They’re super young to have a baby. Was it a honeymoon baby? I wouldn’t want to have a kid that quickly if I was her. Oh wow! Look how much weight she’s gaining.
I felt embarrassed by my baby bump because it was obvious and out there, impossible to hide my now uber feminine, soft, and round body. I was afraid this might be the way my body looked forever.
In hindsight, I realize how foolish and probably narcissistic all those consuming thoughts seem. A couple of years on the other side of my first pregnancy and birth, I know how capable my body is to grow, expand, then gradually return to a non-pregnant shape.
Sure, now there are stretch marks around my thighs and a pooch of skin where my abs used to be, but I’m still me, even though I didn’t feel like myself during the pregnancy.
I didn’t feel like myself because I was fighting the changes my body experienced. I fought the whole process. I felt like my body took off on its own, directed by hormones and a design plan set in motion ages ago. I felt left behind, an unwilling host on the journey.
The nine months before holding a sweet squishy person in your arms carries so many opportunities for sacrifice and submission. But I gritted my teeth to fight it because I didn’t feel “ready.” I sucked the joy of the experience and robbed my husband’s joy, too.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to become a mother. But sometimes when I don’t feel “ready,” or it’s not my idea, there’s a secret rebellion inside keeping me from fully submitting to the process and enjoying how intelligent and able my body really is.
I think women can experience this in every season of life—whether you’re fighting puberty because you don’t want the curves to show around your flat chested friends, or you’re hiding new gray hairs, mortified by wrinkles and wondering whose face is staring back at you from the mirror.
Women around me, different ages from 25 to 65, seem frustrated they can’t control the passage of time. It’s almost as if we think we should be able to monitor the clock and choose when and how much our bellies expand in a pregnancy, or what age the hot flashes should show up.
Knowing how miserable I made myself over the way my body changed in those nine months, I wonder what it would be like instead if I just stopped fighting the inevitable, stopped the fruitless fight to control time or make the clock tick in reverse.
What joy and peace could fill the space if we welcomed and celebrated even the unpleasant steps on the road to becoming women, mothers, and grandmothers?
Obviously, I’m not saying that I plan never to exercise or eat salad again, but I wonder how much more motivated I might feel about doing those things if I viewed them as caring for myself and thanking my body for its awesome work instead of seeing healthy choices as an exhausting counterattack in the never-ending struggle against cellulite and love handles.
It’s funny how exchanging my perspective for truth changes the game.
Almost three years later, I’m becoming a mother again. I don’t always feel like a willing host. It still bothers me that my arms are growing flabby and my belly button pokes out of my shirts. The aches and the pains and the way I walk like a crippled senior citizen definitely bothers me. It’s tempting to put up a fight.
But this time around, I am more yielded to the process. I know the truth: change is good thing God designed to happen.
I have more joy in watching my body grow, more peace in experiencing these very normal changes. My emotional and physical bandwidth are increased because I’m not wasting time fighting an inevitable process that is an integral part of motherhood.
I want to grow old this way. I want my daughters to grow up this way—with joy, knowing what they are capable of and at peace watching their bodies change through different seasons.
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Featured image by Holly Shafer Photography
Alex Davies is a San Diego mom of two girls and a DIY addict who loves creating budget-friendly style and decor. She is passionate about inspiring other moms to remember the things that brought them joy BC (before children) and reclaim those pieces of their identity. You can find her top creative hacks and discover what type of creative you are in a Free Quiz at www.AlexDaviesLiving.com. Plus, you can follow her on Instagram where she shares motherhood moments to laugh and cry at, farmhouse style and more.