Body Image

For as long as I can remember, I have been rather uncomfortable in my own body. Not in any way that could be classified as a psychological disorder – or maybe it could. I don’t know. Anyway, my point is that up until now, no matter my size, I’ve always been self-conscious about my body. I’ve always hated having my picture taken, and speaking in front of groups, and in general any situation where I might be “on display.” I don’t know if it’s because I’ve always been at least a little overweight (and more than a little in the last few years), or if I would have felt the same way as a slender person.

After my miscarriage, I not only felt uncomfortable in my body, I hated it. I knew it wasn’t my body’s fault, but emotionally I felt like it failed me and my baby. And then I had trouble getting pregnant and learned I had very severe endometriosis.  Add to that 7 (or 8 or 9) failed treatment cycles. More strikes against my body.

When I did finally get pregnant again, I didn’t know if I could trust my body. Would my baby grow and be healthy? If she died, would my body know it or would I again need help to complete the miscarriage process?

Now that my body is changing, my stomach growing with a healthy baby, I’m gaining much more confidence. I find myself wearing clothes that emphasize my swelling abdomen, rather than hide it like I used to do. I find myself looking down at it throughout the day and studying its shape and size in the mirror each morning. It’s not a vanity thing, nor pride. It’s disbelief mixed with wonderment and a healthy serving of gratitude. I still can’t believe this is happening to me, while so many other more deserving women are still struggling to get pregnant, waiting to start treatments, or grieving the loss of ever being able to carry a baby.

I remember what it’s like to look at a pregnant woman and feel nothing but jealousy and sadness. As much as I hoped and wished that someday I would be pregnant, it bothered me to think that I could one day be the source of another’s pain and sadness. Now that day has come. So, while I am much more comfortable and confident in my body, part of me still doesn’t want to go out in public or be seen by anyone. Part of me wishes I still looked just fat.

Don’t get me wrong: I am incredibly grateful to be where I am. I’m happy to be pregnant, and I look forward to all the ways my body will change (well, maybe not all the ways – incontinence, for instance). This is just one more example of how infertility ruins what should be a purely joyful time in my life.

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14 thoughts on “Body Image

  1. Yes! I could have written this exact post. For the longest time, I was angry with my body, but now, I’m in awe of what it’s been doing. In the beginning of my pregnancy, I was wary, I didn’t trust my body fully, and expected it to fail me. Now, we’re on better terms. I’m still a bit wary, I know that a healthy pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy baby at the end, but I’m feeling more confident in my body’s ability to carry this baby.

    I’m also wearing tighter shirts and have been amazed with how my body has changed. But on the flip side of that, I’m also aware of how my belly could be the source of someone’s pain. I can’t hide it all the time, but whenever I go to the OB, I wear a sweater, or hold my purse in front of my stomach in the waiting room. I remember all the appointments I had where I felt like everyone in that room was flaunting their pregnancy, and I want to avoid doing that to someone else if possible.

    I’m interested in how my relationship with my body will change after delivery. Will I still be in awe as it feeds my son, or will I feel let down if I’m not able to breastfeed? Will my dislike of my body come back when we try to get pregnant again, or will I remember the miracle it’s already preformed? I’m trying to be on better terms with my body, but old scars don’t heal, and it’s hard to forget what happened in the past.

    • The weather is still pretty cold here, so I’m able to hide my stomach most of the time, thankfully. And I have a really big purse for when I don’t have a coat. 🙂

      I have been thinking about post-baby body image, too. I worry mostly about breastfeeding and trying to get pregnant again. I’m trying to get used to the idea that we may have only one child, and that I could be okay with that.

  2. Awe – I’m with you, rock that bump! Celebrate it! I was one of the few struggling with infertility (before I got pregnant) who actually really loved it when other infertiles/endo sisters FINALLY got pregnant (there was always a touch of jealousy too, but a healthy touch). It filled me with hope! It still does! In the beginning I felt horrible writing about my pregnancy even, but then I realized this may be my only shot. With that said, your sensitivity to others in the trenches IS appreciated, I’m sure, but I’m also glad to hear that your loving and embracing your new, miraculous body. It’s all pretty amazing!

  3. I wrote this exact post- except yours is more eloquent. Having been on the bigger side/overweight for a while, it was weird to buy shirts that showed off my stomach. I also was worried that I would hurt another infertile that saw me on the street. In the end, there is nothing you can do to hide the bump!

  4. I hope that as this pregnancy progresses you are more able to enjoy it and celebrate the amazing thing that your body is doing. I cannot wait to be able to look at my growing body and watch with amazement as we finally see my tummy swell as our forever baby grow. You give me hope that this can still happen for me. You deserve to enjoy this moment after all you’ve been through x

  5. I felt much the same way about inadvertently flaunting my belly when there was the possibility of causing someone else pain. I even wished for some kind of sign I could hang around my neck to let everyone know that my pregnancy did not come easily. But you should be in awe of what your amazing body is doing now!

    • I thought about the sign, too. Honestly though, based on my own reactions in the past, it probably wouldn’t matter. I would still feel jealous. Plus, I kind of needed to feel that way. Crazy as it sounds, it was a helpful part of the grieving process.

  6. Hey Kitten, I hope you feel confident and can wear your well earned baby bump in public as the weather warms up. There was a time when seeing all those bellies bothered me, especially in the spring when they all come out all of a sudden. But now instead I silently wish them well (because I would never wish on them the hardships i’ve been through) and tell myself that, that will be me soon. It helps to ease the pain and takes that negative emotion and puts a nicer one in it’s place.

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