Journal Pages: Mommy Gut
Jacob is three months (and eight days) old. It's been almost a year since I became pregnant with him, although I didn't know it yet. I didn't know how lucky we'd be - and although I suspected it, I had no idea how incredible the human body is - how incredible my body is. I am not sure when (if at all) I'll get over the fact that we made this perfect little boy who has become the center of everything. I have never been more grateful for my healthy body that somehow knew how to pull this off.
I've not always had this good a relationship with my body. In high school and college (and to be fair, for a long while after) I was mostly at war with my body. Women's bodies become so very visible after puberty and I did not feel mine was good enough. I did not feel good enough. At that time, the only way I knew how to ease that discomfort was by trying to whip the outside, the visible part, of myself into a less offensive shape. It did not work, of course, but that took me a long time to figure out (and an even longer time to unpack and heal the why, but that's another blog post entirely).
Bumps Are 'Out There'
When I became pregnant, a (very naive) part of me had expected I'd temporarily be 'free' from some of the pressures that come with having a female body. A break. I quickly learned that this was an illusion, not only because the pressure to conform to societal norms is partly internal and therefore hard to escape, but also because you are never more visible than when you are pregnant. Your body, as soon as it becomes known and visibly clear that you are with child, almost becomes public property. Everything you eat, drink, and (not) do, is magnified and may be commented upon. Discussing the way you look is to be expected. In some cases (although I didn't experience this myself very much), apparently even touching a pregnant belly is fair game. Even though all of these interactions were positive in my case - it felt odd. Perfect strangers discussing my bump, friends talking about my weight, colleagues asking me after my diet. It was a change. I had left my carefully crafted 'safe zone' (a certain weight, diet, exercise, careless attitude) behind and was having to discuss it by ways of small talk.
Following My Mommy Gut
As my body heals, I am learning to use my increased love and respect for it to care for it. My life is completely different now that Jacob is here, and it doesn't feel inappropriate for my body to reflect this change. As time goes by, however, it also feels wonderful to slowly start to recognize myself in the mirror again. This balancing act (accepting change versus conserving a bit of your old self) seems to me like the perfect metaphor of motherhood. As is the feeling of having to 'explain' yourself, I guess - and deciding, in the end, that you just need to go with your gut. Mommy gut FTW.
Below some journal pages about all this, some trips we made this month, shingles fun times, and the joys of breastfeeding and having the entire world see my boobs (again, so so visible).