Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oh That Pregnancy Glow!

... why can't pregnant women (or at least this pregnant woman) see it for themselvs!?!?

Body image is not a big issue for me (or wasn't). Does my husband have to listen to my whine and complain about my not toned enough thighs, ba-donk-a-donk hind end, frizzy hair, etc... Yes, he does. I try not to complain, but I am a female, and as such I am not sure I will ever be completely satisfied without my outward appearance. However, when I complain about my butt and thighs I also know and acknowledge the fact that I haven't been hitting the work out's like I should either. Those issues are my own fault, and I own them. Now my hair, its not my fault, and though 75% of the population tells me what a gift it is, I am still learning to see it as such. I spent the first 17 years of my life with thick straight hair, only to have it go corkscrew in a few weeks time, my senior year of high school. My previous hair was easier... and cheaper!:) But there is nothing like working with adolescents losing their hair due to chemo, prior to prom, to give you a serious wake up call about how blessed you are to have a strand of hair on your head!

All that to say, I don't find my self-worth in my body, my appearance, in the way people see me. My parents did a great job instilling this concept in me, at an early age, and I  pray we can do the same for Ellie Faith and any other future children we are with which we are blessed. I love the phrase in The Help that Abilene recites over and over to poor, sweet, neglected Mae Mobly,"You is kind, you is smart, and you is important." Definitely boo-hooed in that part of the movie, right from the beginning. I definitely plan on doing this with our babies... maybe just with correct grammar.:)

I wish I could take some credit for this some-what lack of "normal female mindset," but I really can't. Part of it, I come from two parents with families with great metabolisms, and while mine is probably the slowest out of the family (due the lack of athletic ability/enjoyment) it is still pretty darn good. I have never been over 125 lbs, and if I have, it was water weight during that time of the month. In the past too, I could cut out a snack a day, and drop a pound or two by the end of the week. Of course, approaching 30, this is getting much harder to do. And then I got pregnant...

I think I actually lost weight in the beginning of the pregnancy, due the whole lack of not being able to eat anything deal. Plus, I had some fertility-med-pudge hanging around that quickly vanished upon conception. It took a while for me to actually gain weight. However, my body immediately began changing...rapidly!

I wondered if I would have a hard time, mentally, with the weight gain that must go on for a healthy pregnancy. I wasn't sure. I set a standard that I would only weigh myself on Monday mornings - no more  and no less. That worked great. I saw tinsy tiny increments of weight gain, but it was slow and steady - nothing freaky.

Working out was not an option for the first 11 weeks. One, due the fact my fertility specialist is very conservative on this front, and two, I was doing good to stay half awake at work. Once home, I was a zombie or in a coma.:) I have worked out sporadically since week 12. I am also on my feet all day, wrestling, chasing down, and restraining kids for shots, blood draws, procedures, etc...  I have beat myself up for not working out more then I am. I know habits I make now, will carry over when the baby comes. But honestly, there are so many nights I come home so dead tired it is all I can do to make myself dinner, let alone the hubs. I have really pushed myself to not beat myself up over this.

A lot of my friends were able to work out daily, their entire pregnancy. Just hearing this, I allow it to put pressure on me. Eventually, I take step back and realize - most of them weren't working, full time or at all, and if they were, they weren't so actively involved in extracurriculars (like college ministry) as we are. Its then I have a choice - am I really in the right place God would have me to be right now,  or am I overextending myself? Sometimes the answer is the first, and sometimes it is the second. Having to make choices for me and the baby, and miss out on some of the college ministry things has been really really hard, but I know it is the right and healthy choice. Exercise goal is set at 2-3 times a week. If I get it done great, if I do more, fabulous, if it doesn't happen and I nap/veg on the couch instead, its ok too.

Last week I saw something I had never seen before - the scale was over 130. Last week my jeans started getting significantly more uncomfortable. Last week my belly started peeping out under my regular shirts, but didn't fill out most maternity shirts I tried out. Last week I swear my thighs doubled in circumference. Panic, at times, has slowly tried to eek its way into my heart, mind, and body.

So I have a choice - the weight is coming, the body is changing, the clothes aren't going to fit for long/if ever again - what am I going to do? Am I going to quit eating proper nutrition, quit all my social experiences to work out after work, all the maintain a "tiny" pregnant body? NO!

I also have another choice - listen to the voices around me - really listen, not just brush them off as nice comments. At my brother's wedding last month, I saw lots of friends and family for the first time as obviously pregnant. Of course, I got the basic, "Oh look at you, you cute little mama," that you say to anyone, even when what you are really thinking is "Holy cow, you really are NOT supposed to be eating for two adults at 12 weeks into the pregnancy journey." Or am I the only horrible person who thinks like that? :-/ But I also got some of the sweetest comments, for the least "expected commenters."

"Pregnancy has never looked so good on someone."
"You look absolutely gorgeous, I mean really beautiful."
"You never looked as beautiful and happy as you do now."
"You are positively glowing!"
"Sweetest pregnant girl I have ever seen."

Now, I don't say these things to boast, brag, or elevate myself in your eyes at all. I have wanted to write this post for awhile now but didn't because I was so uncomfortable using those phrases, but knew I had to use them in order to make my point. Vulnerable!

I don't see the glow. I see rapidly paling skin, as summer's tan vanishes, and tanning beds are off limits. (I do however notice by far the least amount of blemishes on my face since I was 8, and for that I am very thankful!) I don't see the beauty - I see and awkwardly expanding abdomen - depending on what I am wearing could just be a really bad beer gut, or the front half of an awful muffin top. I see and feel hips as wide as Texas, and on a 5'3" frame, that isn't considered voluptuous, its straight up pear shaped. I don't see what my husband sees when he tells me daily I have," never looked prettier." 

And it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I never see it. It doesn't matter if what people say they see are just words to make me feel better. It doesn't matter if its all true today and gone tomorrow. "Charm is deceptive, and beauty evaporates, but a woman who has the fear of the LORD should be praised." Proverbs 31:30 The truth is, we have been given a gift - Elliott Faith Ross. Most of life's most precious gifts come at a price/cost. They aren't freely given. If they were, we wouldn't appreciate them. We have been given a gift so many couples are longing for - a baby of our own, growing, kicking, squirming inside my uterus. 

I don't care if pregnancy take away every ounce of sexiness I ever thought I possessed (and there was really very little there to begin with! Ha ). That is not what motherhood is about. Its about so much more. Its about a giving of yourself you never thought was possible (and I haven't even scratched the surface), it is about, like my friend Michelle's dad likes to say, "you will never sleep or pray the same ever again. Its about so much more than I have any idea about. But I know that  is what is important. I as scared as I am, I can not wait to learn all about it.  

And in the mean time.... I is kind, I is smart, and I is important.... and I choose joy! :)

1 comment:

  1. It is definitely hard to accept compliments, and I can't see the "glow" in the mirror either. Body image issues are pretty common in pregnant women I'd guess...even for the lucky ones like you who have great biology on your side. :) Hang in there, and remember the numbers below - it's not like you're just gaining fat!

    Blood 3 pounds
    Breast 2 pounds
    Womb 2 pounds
    Baby 7.5 pounds
    Placenta 1.5 pounds
    Aminotic Fluid 2 pounds
    Fat & Protein 7 pounds
    Retained Water 4 pounds