October 1, 2011

on my baby belly, before & after...

39 weeks pregnant vs. 7 weeks after baby.

[In labor, 39 w. 2 d. pregnant | Yesterday morning, 6 w. 6 d. postpartum]

Seeing my body transform during pregnancy was incredibly surreal. I remember the first few times I looked in the mirror and spotted my "baby bump". From that moment on, I was constantly stealing glances at myself throughout the day in everything from store windows to the sides of mini-vans in parking lots. (Yes, it was a slight obsession. I could just hardly believe I was pregnant half the time, and having the physical reminder was both comforting and thrilling.) Although it took a long time for my bump to be apparent to the rest of the world, I could feel my body changing every day.

You always wonder what it's going to be like, you know? Seeing your belly grow as the child inside you slowly changes with each passing day. What will it feel like? Will I still feel like myself? Will I feel different?

I know most of us worry endlessly about what pregnancy will do to our bodies. Extra weight, stretchmarks, all the lumps and bumps that we work so hard to avoid under normal circumstances. For some reason, I didn't let that worry get to me. I kept thinking about how if there was ever a time to just let my body do what it needed to do, pregnancy was it. There was always that worry of becoming a human blueberry, but most of the time I just giggled about it. In the couple years leading up to my pregnancy, I had managed to overcome many of my body image issues and I wasn't going to let my worry steal any joy from the next nine months.

Bring on the love handles and double-chins. I was going to take it all in stride. (And try my best to hide the chins in any and all photographs, obviously. I'm no saint, people.)

As it ended up, I really lucked out. I'll never deny that. Having a tiny baby, combined with the fact that I somehow avoided many typical pregnancy cravings and the usual increase in appetite, led to my gaining only 20 lbs. during the 39 weeks I was pregnant. (I take no credit, for the record. It was a mystery of science, because I had always figured I'd gain at least 50 lbs. No lie.) And having a smaller belly led to my also avoiding stretch marks—not including the one that appeared after the wee one arrived. Of course, I will never complain about that lone stretch mark, and instead find it slightly endearing. I imagine it being all, "Ohai. I'm just chilling here on your abdomen. Don't hate."

After I gave birth, I still looked like I was about five months pregnant for a few days. At first I felt awkward about it. I remember changing into my regular clothes before heading home from the hospital, noticing my still round belly. I looked at my mom, rubbing my leftover baby bump and saying, "WHAT IS THIS MESS." She assured me it was normal, so I calmed down a bit. I knew it would slowly become smaller and smaller—and, in a way, I started to get wistful after that.

It's like the last signs of pregnancy, slowly melting away.

About two weeks postpartum, I kind of adored what was left of my baby bump. I wanted to go belly dancing. Or just shimmy around a bit in front of the mirror. Mostly because it felt good to be curvy it a way that didn't include my stomach protruding a foot from my body. I have a waist! I have hips! I have a soft, beautiful belly! Hurrah!

I'm now back down to where I was pre-baby (just a few pounds under, actually—which I contribute to breastfeeding, as well as being more active). It's been an incredible journey. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was so anxious and eager to be forced to wear pregnancy jeans, and now I'm back to my regular wardrobe. My body has shifted and changed, but has also given me a healthy, happy little girl. I'm in awe of the whole process, truly.

I remember my mom always telling me about how each time she gave birth, it was such an incredible experience that she felt like she was the first woman in the world to have a baby. Creating a life, sustaining that life for nine months, giving birth to a tiny miracle, and then being all that is needed for that life to continue outside the cozy space it had grown within.

It's definitely been a life-changing experience. And as a woman, I can't help but be in awe of how I was created for this...as cliché and old-fashioned as it may sound.

Sometimes it's still so overwhelming to look at the tiny baby sleeping in my arms, knowing that without Jay and I, she would never exist. And that my body held her life within it for so long, making sure she was safe and sound for all those months. Magical, really.

20 comments:

  1. Love this post! Beautifully expressed!

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  2. Beautiful post :) What an amazing journey... with the greatest result at the end...that cute little one! :)

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  3. Reading your blog throughout your pregnancy has helped me be so much more comfortable with the way my body is changing and how I'm feeling through mine. I only hope I can embrace everything as you did, and that my daughter will be as beautiful as yours!

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  4. How is it that you look WAY more put together while 1. in labor and 2. with a newborn than I do on a given Saturday when I have absolutely no excuse! You and the babe are absolutely stunning, congratulations momma!

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  5. Really well said. I love how you accepted and embraced the changes of the miracle of life. You look beautiful!

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  6. You looked beautiful then and now! I agree with Jayme too - you looked great in labour. It's crazy and amazing what pregnancy does to your body. I was just thinking earlier, I'm going to miss my bump.

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  7. you are both so beautiful it makes my heart melt. :)

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  8. As some of the women around me are getting pregnant and having babies, I can see these sentiments reflected in them as well. It's lovely. Thank you for putting it into words and sharing. :)

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  9. This really is glorious and magickal. <3 A post from your soul! LOVE IT!!!

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  10. And now I can't wait for the time when I am pregnant and have my own nugget.

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  11. I absolutely love the way you write about being a mom and being pregnant. It is so encouraging and inspiring!

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  12. Ah! I love this post! I struggle a lot with body image issues and I often wonder how I will "handle" my body changing during pregnancy (in the far, far, far future...).

    These pictures are so perfect. Love them.

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  13. It has been such a joy to read along with you as you experience this journey! Kids are a long way off for me still, but they way you have shared this space with Eisley, and your musings about motherhood make my heart so so happy. If I'm looking to feel light and joyous, I visit your blog.

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  14. Beautiful post! You make a beautiful mom!! Love the pictures too!

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  15. I seriously feel like it may as well have been last week that you were telling us your hopes of becoming a mother, and now she's already almost 7 weeks old! I'm so happy to see your dream become a reality. : )

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  16. I love your attitude. I will be showing my sister this as she gets closer to having her baby. She could could not be more beautiful as this new life grows within her. You and your sweet baby are beautiful too!!

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  17. Reading things like this actually makes me look forward to the day I'm ready for a baby - even though that day is not going to come for quite awhile still. Such a gorgeous post.

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  18. Love the two photos showing how you look before and after side by side. Your daughter looks so content there sleeping in your arms :)
    Loved your post. Every time I read a post of yours I always feel I can get right into what you mean. And that's a good thing. Loved reading this.

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  19. yes, yes, yes! i just love all of this so much :)

    ps. your hair is amazing. how do you get it so effortlessly perfect?

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  20. I can see a difference in the "before" and "after" pics and I'm not talking about the belly. Its something in your eyes. I can quite describe it, but its good. You just have this mothering look to you now. (and not in the frumpy mom-jeans way, in the cute-hip-mom kind of way) It looks good on you.
    I loved being pregnant and watching my belly grow. (plus it was a great way to hide the freshman 15-ahem 25-that Id kept around for a few years) It was amazing how after being home after the babies were born and seeing my belly shrink day by day. Never in my life will I be able to lose weight like that!

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