I remember watching What to Expect When You’re Expecting a few years ago and laughing about how different two of the pregnancy experiences were. One mom, played by Elizabeth Banks, struggled with self esteem throughout the film. She felt bloated, hot, flustered, and overall just “not pretty.” On the other hand, another mom played by Brooklyn Decker, had the pregnancy glow the entire film, wore heels, bragged about having TONS of energy and was even carrying twins.
When I found out I was pregnant I was SO excited for all the silly “things.” I couldn’t wait to have a big round belly, wear cute maternity clothing, and have this famous GLOW. I had spent the last year and a half working out, changing how I ate, losing weight and had gotten down to a size 18. I wasn’t even disappointed knowing that I would spend the next few months going backwards. Well reality shortly hit.
One day I started searching images for “plus size pregnancy portraits.” What I found immediately let me down. Just being honest. The search results were minimal. I came across a post talking about “b shaped bumps” vs “c shaped bumps” and realized there was a silly term even devoted to this! From someone who is heavier in the bottom portion of their stomach and hips I realized this term would probably fit my body shape and for some reason… this crushed me! I know this sounds so ridiculous now but in those first 14 weeks…. the idea of my pregnant stomach having a weird curve in the middle was such a let down. Why couldn’t I just be normal? That’s what I literally told myself. Why couldn’t I just have ONE thing other non plus size women have. Now looking back, I realized how vain and silly I was being but I blame it on the hormones. I also know there HAS to be some other plus size mamas out there who feel me on this.
As the weeks went on, my stomach and hips grew. Now as a reference, when I was at the peak of my weight loss I had a 19 inch difference between my hips and waist. So I didn’t even think it was possible for my hips to spread even more… but oh they did. I did very well with weight gain and had only gained about 8 lbs by week 25. But this didn’t mean I wasn’t seeing changes in my body. My breasts were no longer perky. My stomach stretched wider instead of just straight out. I had a dip around my belly button where my “pregnant stomach” ended and my regular ” lower belly” started. Nobody even could tell I was pregnant and just assumed I was chunky. I WANTED people to ask me if I was pregnant because it would mean I actually had a pregnant belly… instead of just a carb belly.
Now at 38 weeks. Do I feel sexy when I look in the mirror? No. That ship sailed around week 6. Do I feel beautiful? YES. But not because of what I see in the mirror. I feel beautiful knowing there is a LIFE growing inside me and that is such a miracle and blessing I would be crazy to not let myself find joy and pride in that. Are there days I cry and collapse on the bed because nothing fits? Girl you have no idea. MATERNITY CLOTHES SUCK FOR PLUS SIZE. Can I get an amen??? Like can someone fix this?! But I have come to realize the following:
There are different ways to feel beautiful.
Before pregnancy, I felt beautiful when my hips were accentuated, hair was down and my waist looked trim. I felt beautiful when my hair was done and my outfit was put together. Now it’s a little different. I have never felt so beautiful than when Devin comes up to me, puts his hands on my stomach, smiles and says “almost time.” To see his face when he looks at this round, wide, stretched out stomach makes me feel like I am KILLING it. Like girrrrl I still got it! Is he looking at the fact I have a b shaped stomach? No. I guarantee you he doesn’t even know what that is.
I feel beautiful when I am stretched out on the couch in my lounge pants that I have worn three days in a row and I see my stomach move up and down like an alien because it reminds me I have a healthy miracle inside me.
I feel beautiful when I see these stretch marks that have developed across my skin because it’s another reminder that my son needed more space to grow arms and legs that will one day throw a ball and run across a field. I will take the scars for him.
It’s become so much more than looking “put together” and having a slim waist.
Stop Comparing Yourself.
This was really hard for me. I preach self esteem constantly and I was in SUCH a good place with my body before pregnancy. I was comfortable with my curvy body and was proud I had gone from a 24/26 and was down to a 16/18. I didn’t compare myself to other women and felt like I had “fixed” myself. I no longer cared about what other women were doing. Then I got pregnant and the cycle just started all over. “How come her breasts are getting bigger and mine are just staying the same?” “How come her belly is literally a beach ball and mine is like a round saucer that looks somewhat deflated?!” So basically I realized I still had a lot of work to do with my self esteem and it isn’t something that just goes away when you reach a “goal size.” It’s something I am going to battle with and it is more of an internal struggle with my mind vs just being happy with my physical appearance. This was a tough pill to swallow.
I am growing a HUMAN. It’s okay to give myself a pat on the back.
I cried this week because I was out of breath doing a few loads of laundry and making the bed. I thought to myself, “Oh my god Debbie you are so out of shape you can’t even do some basic chores.” But uhm excuse me ‘self’. I have a freaking baby inside my stomach the size of a bowling ball rolling around…. Give yourself a freaking break that you’re a little out of breath!
I have gained about 10-15 more pounds in the last 10 weeks which was CRUSHING. But you know what? I have two weeks left and I am going to bounce back slowly and carefully and do what’s best for my body. I am going to love myself when it’s hard and I want to give up. Because if I did it once I can do it again. I will focus on my overall health and work on my endurance and know that when I reach my goal weight I will be even prouder of myself than the last time.
My husband really does love me.
Look I stopped wearing pants around the house about 20 weeks ago. He sees belly, my weight gain in my thighs, my messy bun, and the fact I use my stomach as a tray half the time now. Guess what! He still loves me. He brought me breakfast in bed this morning, tells me I’m beautiful, smacks my butt, and still treats me like the size 18 girl from a few months ago. He loves me for me and still takes the time to make sure I feel good about myself. Now that’s a keeper.
In summary, my self esteem has hit highs and lows these past few months and it’s OKAY. I’m allowed to feel frumpy. But most importantly I haven’t sat around feeling sorry for myself because of some weight gain and tight jeans. In the end, that baby boy will not care about whether I had a c shaped or b shaped belly. He will care about having his mommy around. A mommy who loves and respects herself. That is the one of the best gifts I can give him.