Beauty and the Bump

I just got done reading part of a book about loving your body. Like, saying to your legs,

“I’m so thankful that you work and you get me around. You are really great legs. I have great legs.”

Right now body image is a huge mystery to me. I’m in the last trimester of pregnancy with my second child and I couldn’t be happier about her arrival for two reasons:

1. She will finally be here! I get to look into those eyes, touch those little feet and hands, I get to feel utterly helpless and she actually will be.

2. I get to take control of my body again…kind of. I mean, I will be like a human buffet for months and just because the kid is outside of my body doesn’t mean that it’s not still sustaining her.

But I am looking forward to the new season. With a newborn this season is short but it also feels like an eternity.

I’m going to be honest. I do not feel beautiful being pregnant. I’m already tall and I’ve never been super slim. I’m about average build. BUT, when I’m pregnant I feel like The Hamburglar or Big Bird or the guy who dresses up like the cow from Chick-fil-a, not a real cow. I feel imposing. Like if I walk up behind you I might scare the snot out of you but then you see that I’m pregnant so I’m really just cute and cuddly. Not only am I tall, but I have this layer of “baby love”.

When I first found out I was pregnant I made a vow to myself not to get sausage arms. I was okay if the rest of me blew up but for some reason my arms gave me the illusion of control. I saw other pregnant women with skinny arms. If they can do it, so can I. My arms currently look like foot long hotdogs…they plump when you cook ‘em.

giant-melon - black and white.jpg

I am surrounded by all kinds of people with all kinds of builds and with all kinds of insecurities. A lot of my friends are what I would call skinny and it seems to come relatively easy to them. So, I wonder what they think when they see me coming with my ever increasing frame. “Poor girl, she just let herself go,” is the predominant phrase running through my head. I know I’m pregnant and the 10 pound watermelon protruding off the front of my body might be a good excuse but I don’t care what the circumstance is, it’s a little hard not to be self-conscious. And then I feel sorry for my husband. I do not look like the woman he married. Then, I just let him know that this is partly his fault so he has to deal with the consequences. ;)

I was sitting at the dining room table with my mom and husband a while back and we were talking about this very subject. My mom says, “You’re right, you’re not beautiful. But you are beautiful.” Huh?

She went on to clarify, “You’re beautiful, but because you don’t feel beautiful, that’s what people see.” People can see that I don’t feel beautiful. Dang it. And even if other people tried to affirm me, it wouldn’t work. I have to believe it for myself. Even when Matt (my husband) tells me I’m beautiful, I give him the “you’re a good liar” look.

As I’ve gotten older, and had a kid, I’ve started to slowly realize something...looks are not nearly as important as I once thought they were. Seriously people. But I still get caught up in the rigmarole. It is a constant struggle. Especially in a culture that worships pants size. We are utterly obsessed with ourselves. The human condition is the worship of self and the only cure is Jesus.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing. But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
— Proverbs 31:30

It kind of frustrates me that for the majority of this pregnancy I may have sabotaged myself. That instead of embracing this season I fought against it. I just survived it. That was not always the case, but in my interactions with others that was the overarching theme.

But I still have time. There's still some time left of this glorious pregnancy. Usually the last 2 months are where the baby is packing on those extra pounds and so is mama. Oy vey. But you can tell, can’t you? You can tell that I don’t feel beautiful. Because in the back of my mind, unless I decide to change my mind, bearing human life is not beautiful. It’s a chore. That hurts to admit because I know there are so many women out there who would love to be in my position. For that, I am sorry. Please forgive me.

I’m not even sure what the point of all this is. But for some reason I know that it’s important. God is working on my heart. And as I write this, things become clearer and clearer. I thank God for this relatively easy pregnancy and the honor of carrying a child, but I have not allowed the gratefulness to permeate my attitude about my body and it shows. That needs to change.

I need to change.

Like I said, I have a little time left and I’ve decided that I’m beautiful. I’ve decided that my puffy face and sausage arms are beautiful. Because I am growing a person. A real, live person. And that is a miracle. That is beautiful.   

Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.
— Saint Augustine

Note: I wrote this a couple months ago. If anyone has seen me recently, I’m about to pop! People give me the crazy eye like I could be writhing on the floor at any moment in labor and they might have to be the one to catch the baby. Although, I still felt these were important sentiments to share. I have had a couple relapses since my “declaration of beauty,” but overall I found that once I chose to see myself as beautiful my attitude changed. It’s like I just took a big fat chill pill. I think we all need to do that sometimes.

Just chill.

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