I’ve said before that I enjoy being pregnant and it’s true. A good part of it at least is the fun of waiting for those first kicks and wriggles, watching your tummy have a life of it’s own, and anticipating that moment when you look into your new baby’s eyes for the very first time and the world just seems to stop for a moment or two as they gaze back, or scream at you!
But from a probably more selfish point of view I like how I feel when I’m pregnant. I don’t know exactly how or why but having a bump seems to take away any insecurities about body image that my subconscious might be squirrelling away. Even when the mirror tells me that I look dark-eyed and shattered, or eating something that doesn’t usually cause a problem gives me more spots than a teenager, I don’t care (and besides, on the days when it’s necessary, that’s what make up was invented for!).
I wonder whether that pregnancy glow that everyone talks about isn’t so much a physical thing as the reflection of an inner confidence; for once in our lives no one, no media, no thing is telling us to loose a little here or there, to suck in a tummy, that to look good we have to look skinny; we’re free to be our best and most original selves.
I’m fully aware that there are probably people reading this thinking, “nope, not me – I hated pregnancy, it was really painful, I felt awful throughout and never has a woman on this earth been so glad to go into labour and know it was nearly over”, and I don’t mean to rub salt in the wound at all. And I’m not saying that your best self looks and feels lousy, or that it’s compulsory to love pregnancy. But it should be compulsory to be able to give ourselves a break.
It was on our trip to London, we’d popped into a maternity shop on Marylebone High Street as we were passing (I know, what was I thinking, not a sample size above a few odd 12s – H said it was the cheapest shopping trip ever) and while we were in there another girl came in. She was barely half the size of me, in just about every direction, 12 weeks pregnant and looking for a few bits and bobs to wear on holiday to somewhere much warmer and sunnier than the UK.
So far so good, I can sympathise with feeling like you’re bursting your buttons at 12 weeks especially if your style seems to be very bodycon (her not me obviously), and everyone wants to feel comfy on holiday.
But it was her comment as she emerged from the changing room in a very pretty skirt and top:
“This is great; I don’t even look pregnant in this one!”
Part of me suppressed a wry chuckle, “oh lady, just wait; if you’re going to have a baby you’re going to have to look pregnant at some point” and part of me was just a little sad for her.
In that one comment it seemed like she was missing out on the joy; it seems all wrong that the primary emotion of a beautiful newly pregnant young woman should be relief.
In an ideal world no one should feel anything but confident and happy with they way they look but sadly we live in an imperfect world filled with largely unrealistic ideals.
And if we can carve out one little bit that’s still sacrosanct, couldn’t it be pregnancy; couldn’t we just embrace the fact that pregnancy comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, that however fast (or slow) nature, exercise and an affection for chocolate orange allow you to “bounce back”, you are going to spend several months looking like you hid a netball up your jumper, and that’s OK.
In fact, it’s more than OK. It’s quite frankly a bit of a miracle, and that is worth celebrating.