Can I get personal with you all for a second? I've always been overweight. Call it what you want, hefty, thick, zaftig, well-fed, large-boned, but I've always felt the body mass index has always been a bit skewed, if you know what I mean. After many years of eating my feelings (and I have a LOT of feelings) and then therapy and reflection, I've come to realize that my body is a result of my genetics and my choices, and for the most part I'm happy with both. My body and I are no longer at war, and haven't been for a long time.
But holy hell, did I LOVE being pregnant, because it was the first time in my life, I felt like I had an excuse to be large and in charge. I LOVED wearing maternity clothes for real, not because I accidentally bought a maternity shirt because some cruel twist of consumer fate put the clothes for women HIDING their big bellies and women DISPLAYING their big bellies right next to one another. (Seriously though, what the eff' is that about?) Not that my maternity clothes were so cute (trust me, you haven't seen ugly until you've tried plus-sized maternity shopping on a budget), but I felt like I could finally FLAUNT my curves.
I know, I know, I DO love my body, and I AM proud of what it can do, and how sexy I am, Phenomenally Phenomenal Woman and all that, but there was definitely a part of me that stopped hiding when I got pregnant. And you can bet I was patting that non-existent baby bump from the moment I saw that second pink line on the pregnancy test.
Oh and the food. Have I mentioned I love food? And while I knew not to "eat for two", I knew pregnancy wasn't the time to diet either, so I took the mental break from watching everything I ate and I promised not to sweat it.
There was the added benefit of feeling my babies move around inside of me, of the knowledge that my body, so often disregarded by society's definition of beauty, was perpetuating the species; I walked a bit taller when I was pregnant and it wasn't because I was about to be a mom. Maybe it was in part to mentally flip off the practitioner who essentially told me I was too fat to have a healthy pregnancy (wrong!). But mostly, mostly it was because I felt I could be my most true self, and not be judged. I had a REASON to be this big. That and total strangers would tell me I was beautiful.
Now I'm a mom times three and almost definitely outside of the time when even the most generous tables say I should have lost the baby weight, yet I still hold to a little better than half of it. But, I still walk with that swagger (not waddle, people, SWAGGER) that I had before. I have that same sense of purpose, but not because I'm growing a little person. I went out at my absolute heaviest, my absolute most exhausted, with my pregnancy-acne covered face, and ugly-ass, overworn maternity clothes, and I was confident. If could be proud then, I can be proud NOW. I don't need a reason to be the size I am, but if you want one, I've got three (four if you count that pesky blended mocha habit I've picked up). Genetics and choices, my friends, genetics and choices.
I did LOVE being pregnant. But I love the confidence I'm left with even more (and bonus: now I can walk up the stairs without being winded).
In my next post, I'll talk more about how I worked my postpartum confidence to pregnancy levels, 'cause I'm not pretending it was easy. But I'll leave you with this: no matter your size, no matter your shape, no matter if you are pregnant or if you ever have been, YOU decide how much of yourself you are proud of. YOU decide how much you swagger. So go out there and walk tall in your beautiful self! Maybe we'll run in to one another at the "Close to Maternity But Not Quite" department, trying on shirts.