Pregnancy is something I had always dreamed about. Being a mother was always my end goal, my dream for the future. Sure, I have other dreams, other things I’ve pursued along the way, but motherhood has always been the top of my life list.
I found out I was pregnant in late August and within days, my body started changing. It wasn’t anything major at first, but within a few weeks my breasts were noticeably bigger. I’m not going to lie to you, I did not mind this change one single bit. As someone who is chronically small chested, this was actually a pretty awesome change. At this point I’ve gone up 2 full cup sizes, it’s really kind of amazing.
I wasn’t especially fit or muscular going into pregnancy, but the lack of energy combined with a crazy new work/school schedule pretty much made exercise an impossibility. Or at least an improbability. And I know that the lack of exercise has contributed to how I feel about myself. I realized that I wasn’t gaining weight the first few weeks, but my body did not look like it used to. Where it used to be flat, it was now soft. Where it used to be narrow, it was now wide.
It was as if my weight completely redistributed itself overnight. I would look in the mirror and see someone completely different than I used to.
Because I have a history of eating disorders, I knew that pregnancy was going to be a bit of a struggle. To my surprise the numbers on the scale don’t bother me very much, aside from wanting to gain exactly as much weight as my doctor recommended. But that’s not really as much about worry about weight as much as it is wanting to please my doctor. That’s another issue for another time.
I really don’t seem to have any psychological stress associated with the weight gaining, but I am really struggling with the way I look.
I know this is probably wrong to say because I am supposed to be reveling in all the wonderful things that are happening and the miracle of life, but basically I just feel fat. I know I should use a different word or something more politically correct, but there’s just no other way to describe how I feel about myself. I cannot wear any of my pants except the one pair that I usually only break out right after Thanksgiving and about half my shirts are too snug, not just through the chest, but down at the bottom near my waist, too.
I just hit 12 weeks and I know that I should expect some changes, but I guess I didn’t realize that it would start like this. I think that on some level I thought that everything would stay the same but that adorable baby bump would just gradually grow over time. The baby is currently the size of a plum, but my body looks and feels more like it’s a pumpkin.
I’m trying to cut myself some slack, but I feel disappointed almost every time I see my reflection. I feel like I should be eating better, exercising more and maybe the changes wouldn’t be so obvious. I feel like I need to have more discipline and then maybe my clothes would still fit. But at the same time, I know my body is different now, I am hungry more frequently and more urgently. I need more calories each day and my natural instinct of calorie restriction is the very opposite of what this baby needs. And for those worried, I haven’t done anything stupid except maybe eat way too many carbs.
The changes and my reaction have shown me how far I still have to go in loving and accepting my body. I want to be able to teach my child good habits and model good behavior, but I think I still have a long way to go to understanding what good behavior is when it comes to my body.
I’m hoping that the next 28 weeks and the weeks and months after I give birth will be the learning experience I need to find a way to love my body again. Even if it never looks exactly like I want it to.
Katie is a 28 year old Southern Californian, married to a doctor, racking up as much student debt as possible as a full-time graduate student in a health science. Her hobbies include abusing parentheses, baking complicated desserts that almost universally involve frosting and loving her two cats more than is socially acceptable. She’s currently balancing her first child and graduating from graduate school. So planning and timing are also things she excels at. You can read more from Katie on her blog, Overflowing Brain.