“Are you sure you aren’t having twins?”
“You must be due any day now.”
“You are definitely bigger this pregnancy than with your first two.”
And, the best one of them all…
“Do you know what you’re having? Because I know you’re having a girl.”
I answered, “Oh, really? Why do you say that?”
Waiting for her response, I was quietly expecting her to say, or at least lie to me, that I am glowing like it’s a girl. But, she replied, “Because she has taken away all of your beauty.”
As healthy as I have been since recovering from an eating disorder 13 years ago, I still struggle with my body image at times—especially during pregnancy.
We all have a desire to be attractive, sexy, and beautiful. As a society, we have established that thin, lean, and tall is the model for an ideal body type. At five feet tall, I have been considered “vertically challenged,” making a lengthy height nonexistent for me. Therefore, I have strived to, at least, portray a lean, thin appearance in an attempt to consider myself a candidate for attractiveness. While pregnant, this is virtually an impossible task, and definitely an unhealthy one.
Regardless of how I feel, and the positive reasons for my growth while carrying a baby, I can’t help but cringe when I hear the above comments. And, let me tell you, they haven’t just been said once or twice. I think I get a comment comparable to the ones listed at least once a day! It can be very difficult for someone who has struggled with her body image throughout her life, like myself.
My first pregnancy, I went off my anti-depressant medication for the first time since recovering from my eating disorder. I was an anxious lunatic—about everything. I had so much anxiety that my appetite was suppressed, and I barely was able to gain any weight. I wasn’t a happy person, wife, or friend, and it was especially challenging on my marriage those nine months. So, while I appeared tiny, thin, and carried only in my tummy, I absolutely despised the way I felt.
For my second pregnancy, my doctors agreed and urged me to stay on my medication, saying the risks of my anxiety that I displayed during the first one were far unhealthier than taking a pill. Though my happiness increased drastically compared to my first, my anxiety and inability to sit still and relax remained the same. Therefore, because of my excessive energy, and need to exercise often, I barely gained much weight with that one, too.
So, here we are… my third pregnancy. I am still on my medication, but I am exhausted. I don’t have a quarter of the energy I had my first two pregnancies. I am lethargic, hungry, and I’m not fighting it. As much as I wish some days that I had the urge to go back outside for another run, I feel like I am experiencing similar feelings to many pregnant women, which is somewhat comforting.
Though I am fighting body image issues when asked such triggering questions, I realize I would much rather be fighting those feelings than the anxiety demons I fought for nine straight months… twice. I may not be as thin as I was throughout my two pregnancies, but please, do not offer such comments to women who are carrying a living being in their bodies—one of the most emotionally and physically challenging times of her life. Just smile, and say how amazing it is, because the process of pregnancy is beautiful in and of itself.