Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Belly Thoughts

So, for those of you who have been pregnant, how did you feel about your pregnant belly?  How did you feel during pregnancy?  After pregnancy, with the post-mummy tummy?  Years later?

I was reflecting the other day on my relationship to my belly, especially in regards to my pregnancies and births ─ how I've celebrated it in some ways, and how I've struggled with it in other ways. 

I thought about things that I expected to happen and how the reality did or didn't meet those expectations, things that surprised me, things that pleased me, and things that made me unhappy or which challenged my peace with my body. 

Thought I'd share some of those thoughts here.  Hope you will share your own experiences too.

Trigger Warning:  Frank talk about body ambivalence and negativity. Some folks may find this post challenging or triggering and may want to opt out.


Worrying About Shamu

My first pregnancy was a surprise.  I went from being told I would not be able to get pregnant without "help" to being pregnant a few months later without trying.  So I was totally not prepared to think about pregnancy bellies! 

I hate to say it now because it sounds so vain, but I was really worried about what I'd look like pregnant.  I was already a large person; I figured when I was pregnant I'd look like Shamu. 

Now, I don't mean that in a negative way; I was pretty at peace with my body pre-pregnancy, and I didn't really "fear" being huge in pregnancy.  But I was having a hard time picturing the giant basketball belly you see on skinny women added to my already sizable frame, you know?  And I wondered what I'd be wearing on that basketball belly (or if I could find anything to wear at all, considering that it wasn't easy to find clothes even when not pregnant).

I know a lot of other women of size wonder these things too, because the top post viewed on this blog (by a HUGE margin) is the one on plus-sized pregnancy photos.  There are so few pictures of women of size out in the media, let alone pregnant women of size.  (And fat pregnant women of color?  Nearly impossible to find. Gah!)

The most common search words people use when they find my blog has to do with this search for images of fat pregnant women.  Except the phrases are usually "overweight and pregnant photos" or "obese pregnant belly" or "obese pregnancy pictures" or "plus-size pregnancy belly pics" and things like that.  There is a tremendous desire for pictures of pregnant women of size because I think so many fat women have that "Oh-My-God-What-Am-I-Going-To-LOOK-Like" anxiety. 

The Shamu obsession, I call it.

The Not-Looking-Pregnant-Surprise

The ironic gotcha to all that worry is that once I was well into pregnancy, I was disappointed to realize that I didn't look pregnant at all. 

People kept looking at me and wondering where the pregnancy belly was, I could see it in their eyes.  Well, it was there ─ it just wasn't visible to the casual onlooker.  I have a big ole rack-o-doom and that tends to hide any belly popping out pretty well, plus my baby was facing my belly (occiput posterior) for much of the pregnancy, which means you "show" a lot less (cause the baby's behind is facing the other way!). 

I was so NOT showing in pregnancy that most people couldn't even tell I was pregnant until the baby was nearly born.  My classic story of this was when I had to move during my 8th month of pregnancy.  I showed up to my new doctor's office, told them I was transferring care there from another state ─ and they eyed me and asked me if I needed a pregnancy test!  I said, uh no, I'm 8 months pregnant already and if you need confirmation, you can come over here and feel her kicking!  They still looked dubious but took my word for it. I was so upset that they couldn't tell I was pregnant even at that point.

The only time anyone knew I was pregnant was just before I gave birth at 40 weeks.  I was in an elevator, going up to my last OB appointment, and a doctor on the elevator remarked on my pregnancy (he didn't know me; he was just being kind and making small talk).  I could have kissed him!!  Finally, FINALLY, someone saw I was pregnant.

So in the beginning, I was most worried about just how large I might get in pregnancy, only to have the ironic problem of no one even knowing I was pregnant most of the time.  Some fat women do look obviously pregnant, but some don't.  A lot depends on factors like the position of the baby, your shape ("pears" show more than "apples" or "hourglasses"), and your overall frame. 

If you are bothered by folks not knowing you are pregnant, the secret is to wear obvious maternity clothing, stand with your hand massaging your belly a lot, and talk a lot about your pregnancy.  That will make it clear to all but the most oblivious by-stander that it's not just fat but actual baby in there too.  (Sad we have to be so OBVIOUS about it, but hey, if it brings you peace of mind, go for it.)

The Hard-Belly-Surprise

The biggest thing that surprised me about my actual pregnant belly was that it was hard

I was used to my belly being a bit more on the soft and squishy side ─ not flabby but not rock-hard either.  But in pregnancy, my "bump" was quite hard and that really surprised me.

The not-so-lovely part of this was that the squishy parts then drooped down to the underside of the baby bump and I developed an "overhang" that I'd never had before.  Eywww.

Now, I'm generally a lot more self-accepting than most but even I had trouble being loving and accepting of the big belly droop that sent all my fat south for the winter.  Permanently

That was a not-so-pleasant surprise.

And it only got worse with each kid. 

Four of 'em.

The Postpartum-Belly Reality

I have to be frank about this ─ this belly droop thing has been hard to deal with.  Honestly, it's not a part of my body that I'm so at peace with anymore. 

Hard as it may be for some people to believe, I really was okay with my belly before babies.  It wasn't flat, it did have a bit of a roll, but nothing all that remarkable. I carried more of my weight in my boobs, hips, and legs.  I was okay with my belly.  I wasn't photographing it and sending it off to magazines, but I really didn't hate it and I really did enjoy the fact that my waist was so much smaller than my hips, giving me that va-va-va-voom hourglass vibe. 

But post-children ─ oy.  The va-va-va-voom factor?  It va-va-va-vrooomed off to another universe.  The belly droops down now in a way it never did before.  If I move in just the "right" way, I can hear the "slap-slap-slap" sound of my flesh hitting against itself.  It never did that before children!  Oh my gosh, I cannot tell you how much I absolutely loathe that.

And that hourglass figure?  Well, it's not a straight line but it's closer.  I gained a lot of abdominal fat in my pregnancies, and I dislike that for a number of reasons, both aesthetic and more importantly, because abdominal visceral fat is much more of a health risk.  I used to be very much a pear, or at least an hour-glassy pear with boobs.  Now I gained an apple to add to the pear with boobs, leaving me just fat all over.  That didn't make me very happy. I don't mind being fat, but I really liked actually having a shape.  Now, I feel more like a blob.

The extra abdominal fat certainly wasn't from gaining "too much" weight.  I gained a total of 5 lbs. net (lost 10 or so and then regained 15) on average with each child.  I bounced around a bit between each but ended up at about the same weight I started my first pregnancy.  However, you'd never know it from looking at me.  I look quite a bit heavier now than I did before my pregnancies.  And that sucks, I have to say.

It sucks not because I'm fat but because I look a lot fatter than I really am.  I basically am the same weight as 16+ years ago....but I sure look a lot heavier.  I'm not thrilled with that ─ but the real reason it sucks is because I know from the research that abdominal fat really is more risky. Even though I didn't gain "too much" and even though my eating habits actually improved from pre-pregnancy....I look more at risk, and probably am more at risk.  Damn.

The Lipedema Effect

As a side note of interest, I should point out that the bellyfat gain is probably due to lipedema (warning: not a fat-acceptance link).

People with lipedema (not the same as lymphedema) have a tendency to gain abnormal fat deposits in the lower body, especially the legs, but sometimes also in the abdomen or upper arms. They often gain a lot of these fat reserves during times of major hormonal changes, like puberty, pregnancy, menopause, etc.

My legs look just like the picture here, my legs got bigger symmetrically, I have the classic "cankles" with the ring overlap at the bottom yet my feet are not affected, and it is extremely painful to have any pressure on my legs, especially my lower legs.

While the lipedema fat gain did happen a bit, it was not too bad with the first few pregnancies. However, in the fourth pregnancy (in my 40s), the combination of pregnancy plus perimenopause plus postpartum thyroiditis did seem to add an awful lot of fat, both around my ankles and in the abdominal area.

So while I'm technically at the same weight I started my pregnancies out with, my fat levels have definitely increased, and that's been difficult to be at peace with.

Now, the belly droop thing is pretty common among women of size after pregnancy.  Fat women often experience this, regardless of how much weight they gained, how they gave birth, etc.  (Some get it without pregnancy too, especially if they've had a lot of drastic weight loss/regain in their lives.) 

But mine may be worse because of my 2 cesareans, because many women (fat or skinny) who have had cesareans find they have a post-cesarean "shelf" or "flap."  I'm sure some would be there anyhow without cesareans, but most cesarean moms really do see a marked increase on the belly flap-o-meter, and I'm sure being fat and having lipedema and having had cesareans only magnified that lovely effect.  [Another *#ing gift from my cesareans!]

So all in all, I've had some real challenges to my body acceptance after four children.

Belly Ambivalence

I take some comfort in knowing I'm not alone in my belly ambivalence, though.  A lot of women have droopy bellies postpartum, a ton of stretch marks, and a different overall shape than before. 

A change that drastic ─ well, it's just not that easy to come to terms with, no matter how much you love your body in general, or how much you adore your babies and wouldn't trade them for the world. So having a hard time coming to peace with your body afterwards is very normal, as you can see here:

http://www.theshapeofamother.com/

Beware, though, this is not a body-acceptance or fat-acceptance site at all.  These women have all the self-hate of their bodies (and especially their fat bodies) that is so typical of women in our society.  Add in the wrinkly, saggy belly that is universal immediately postpartum, and the body hate talk there can be really strong at times.  So while the pictures at Shape of a Mother are great to see, you should know that the self-hate talk may be triggering for some. 

Personally, I still find the site useful, even though I find the self-loathing and pro-dieting talk frustrating. I try to remember that it does reflect the ambivalent feelings many women have about their bodies post-partum ─ magnifying whatever body image issues they already had pre-pregnancy ten-fold.  Plus I just don't know any other sites out there that have such honest pictures of postpartum bodies. So I value the absolute honestly of the pictures themselves enough to try and overlook the self-hate talk.

Here is the link to the category of pictures of pregnancy and post-pregnancy bellies in women of size:

http://theshapeofamother.com/category/plus-sized/

[Again, be warned that there's lots of diet talk and WLS (weight loss surgery) discussion there.]

Belly Honor

No, it's not easy to stay at peace with your body (and especially your belly) during pregnancy and post-partum.  There are many challenges to body image, and the natural changes that come with pregnancy can exacerbate the body image issues of even the most self-accepting woman.

Still, it's important to honor the vital work that our bodies did, to love every bump and curve for the job it did bringing a new soul to the earth, growing a healthy being and helping it into this world, and nurturing that new life afterwards.

I guess my main message on this is that it's normal and okay to be a bit ambivalent about your body shape and condition after birth (even long after birth).  Don't hate on it, recognize the important work it did ─ but realize that it's totally normal to have some ambivalence about it too.

Acknowledge that, and then take some time to honor your belly anyway. 

To honor my belly despite my ambivalence, here are some shots of me several years ago in my last pregnancy.  I was "overdue" and impatient to have the baby, but I'd been down the Seduction to Induction Road before, knew how often it leads to a cesarean, and refused to get lured into that trap again.  So I was waiting....and waiting....and waiting...and waiting.  Baby didn't come until nearly 43 weeks by LMP (nearly 42 by adjusted dates).  Augh!

So to distract myself and to have some fun in those last few days, I put on my oldest, ugliest painting clothes, gave my kids a bunch of washable tempera paint, went out into the back yard, stuck out my belly, and gave them a new and unique painting canvas. 


They were young; the resulting artwork is probably not beautiful to anyone in the world except me, but we had a BLAST.   


I remember that belly-painting session with tremendous fondness.  I hope they do too. 

So I honor my belly, stretched out and saggy and droopy as it was (and still is), for all the work it did bringing my wonderful babies to me, like this one, below. [Yes, she is the one in-utero above.]


It was totally worth it, every bit of it.  

Enjoy. And find a way to honor your bellies, too.

*Art Docent HintsIf you enjoy a good mystery and want to try and deciper the painting, look for the picture of the baby they drew.  Look for the green head with a brownish arm sticking out to the side underneath (the rest of the body is a bit amorphous, I'm afraid). Also look for the word "baby" on the side.  There was an arrow below it, pointing to the baby, but it got obliterated by an overenthusiastic toddler.  Then they filled in the blank spaces with random colors and swirls. The final result was a bit Picasso-ish, but hey. 

**Fetal Position Postscript: For the curious, yes, in this picture my baby bump is really quite visible, but then my baby in this pregnancy was in the most optimal position for birth, which is anterior.  That means the little butt was sticking out in front, making a nice big bump to paint on.  In my first pregnancy, when I didn't look pregnant at all, baby was posterior and in that position the baby butt doesn't stick out and make much of a discernible bump.  The difference? I saw a pregnancy-trained chiropractor and got some adjustments.  That made my last pregnancy SO much more comfortable, and it helped baby to be anterior after 3 prior pregnancies with a posterior baby!  Trust me, that's a MUCH easier labor!

30 comments:

acceptancewoman said...

I also didn't look particularly pregnant until I was 8 months or so.
My post-pregnancy belly is okay with me, but I've only had one birth, so, after another few I might feel differently.
I hope there's a way for you to come to more peace with your belly. It's part of you, and the whole of you is very lovable (I've experienced that in person!).
I would love to get together again, belly + everything else.

Lili said...

Hi !
I usually really really enjoy your blog but the "fat disgusting drooping belly" is really difficult for me to deal with. I am in a place in my recovery and FA journey where I can deal right now, but others may not. I am sorry to say I had to stop reading. Can I please suggest a trigger warning for body-hate ?

Cassandra said...

I don't think I ever looked pregnant, not even at the very end, even with an OA baby. The one time I wore an empire waist shirt to show off the belly at about 37 weeks, I was actually embarrassed about it because it was no longer a mystery and it felt so weird that late in the game.
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/rA1kXSdvPZOnDj0wAbfephbxvDSuG9YTi1Voe0m_qB4

There are a lot of things I wish I would have had the support in doing, like getting nice (even amateur) pictures taken and belly henna. Some actual pampering would have been nice too.

I do have the belly sag, but not much else has changed. Four weeks postpartum, 40 lbs had melted off me even though my net gain was 0 lbs.

The great part about being fat before pregnancy? You don't have to worry about your partner still being attracted to you - it's what got you pregnant in the first place!

Definitely have the saggy belly now

Holly said...

I had almost the same experience when I was pregnant with my daughter. I went in to the doctor for bronchitis, and the doctor was prescribing medication. I asked if it was safe for pregnancy. He said, "Oh, you're pregnant? How far along are you? Five weeks? Six?"

"Ummm...I'm 35 weeks."

*blank stare*

I didn't look pregnant at all, unless you knew me. And my belly did that horrible fat migration thing. And now I do sometimes hear the slapping sound of fat on fat. But you know what? I BIRTHED A BABY! I birthed a normal, beautiful, healthy-sized baby girl vaginally. And so despite my body's appearance, its a powerhouse and I try to remember that. <3

maggiemunkee said...

the belly painting art left me in tears. it was absolutely beautiful. thank you for sharing that with us.

Orodemniades said...

Nobody knew I was pregnant except my immediate friends and family. I have one picture (clothed) but the roll has never been developed and I don't know that I could stand to look at it and look exactly the same as I do now.

And, uh, ditto for what Lili said (though I finished the post).

Bonnie (SOAM) said...

Hi, I found this blog entry in my Google Alerts tonight for The Shape of a Mother (although I have, of course, heard of your blog and website a long time ago).

It's funny because someone wrote to me recently saying almost the same thing you said here about SOAM. And in many ways you both are right. I have been thinking about this for awhile now and I imagine I will think a lot longer before I make any changes, if I ever do.

I was deeply saddened to read that you don't consider SOAM to be positive or accepting of fat, because that is my mission in life and the theory behind why I started the website. At the same time I can understand why you must say so - the individual entries are written by women on varying points of this path we must travel to love our whole selves.

And, yet, I find you use words like "shamu" in reference to your own body. I am not judging whether or not you do or have in the past, really I'm not! But I must assume you know what it's like to be on various points on this path.

And so THAT is why I am not sure at this moment if I will change anything. Because I feel we need to honor our feelings before we move on. I don't feel it's fair to expect everyone can be at the same point I am on this path, some are just beginning while others have left me in the dust. It's all a process. I feel it's important to provide an outlet in a safe forum.

That said, I work hard on positivity. I share as many links as I can, I work on BlogHer's Own Your Beauty, I write my own inspiring stuff (or so I hope it to be), I share the most positive entries often. I hope you can see that while SOAM certainly fosters women early on that path to self-love, I also work EXTREMELY hard to keep pushing them along that path so they can reach the end.

Thank you so much for hearing me and for your honesty in this post and for all you do in the world. You are important here.

christine said...

I'm another plus sized mother, 230 when I got pregnant (my 3rd), 225 now (16 week pp). It's nice to know that I'm not the only one with that annoying belly flap. I'm 100% OK with the rest of my body, but sometimes I just want to take a knife to that flap, know what I mean?

Sarah said...

I compleatly understand your struggle with this issue. when I got pregnant with my first child I was excited and scared at the same time I was smaller back then and I was worried what pregnacy would do to my body well I gained about 32 pounds with her and all the weight seemed to come as the belly droop you could tell that I was pregnant thought because my daughter was 11 pounds 1 1/2 oz when she was born she was also 3 weeks over due as well and see with her being so large I also have deep scares and strech marks because the skin was pulled so tight I couldnt even rub my belly with out it spliting open and bleeding everywhere. But I have come to terms with my marks and my droop now I have had 2 more kids since then my youngest just turned 15 months and since I have had her I went from being 240 pounds to 175 pounds but I still have the droop and all the marks but I now see them as a badge of honour because I could have children when so many people can not so I have come to love the way my post baby belly looks and I am proud to say this is my belly and yes I am a mother :)

Shan said...

I had a hard time with my last pregnancy because I didn't carry as far out as I had the time before *plus* I'd put on a little weight and lost some muscle tone in between pregnancies. Two weeks before I was due (four days before she was born) *another* person said, "Oh, are you pregnant?" WTH, really?!? So frustrating and saddening. Especially when, from my view, I definitely looked pregnant.
Sorry for my mini-rant. Stopped by after someone posted a link on BabyCenter. I'm glad I did.

Shan :+)

mammaopal said...

My body has changed a lot since I had my daughter.
One thing that helps me stay positive about the changes and find strength in myself is to imagine that my beautiful, perfect little daughter may look exactly the same way after she gives birth one day. I think about how I want HER to feel about herself at that point. This thought helps me stay strong and focus on positive self talk, out loud, in front of my kids. It really helps to keep her as my focus.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I found your site through The Shape of a Mother, a blog I absolutely love. I was a little surprised you cited SOAM as being filled with women unhappy with their bodies, with lots of "diet talk" and surgery talk. I guess I'm wondering what about this bothers you? The women writing into this site are concerned deeply with their bodies and how they look, and have battled the media images and their own demons. They are being honest when they post their most intimate of pictures, and I find it disheartening that you judge it in that way, especially since in your own blog entry you call yourself "Shamu" and talk about how much you dislike the belly flap. Lots of women seriously dislike a part of their body, and some choose to diet or use surgery, and that is their choice. I have never felt like Shape of a Mother either encourages or discourages this - the site exists to let the women tell their OWN stories, whether happy, sad, encouraging, or depressing. SOAM itself seems to take a very strong stance on NOT judging women for their posts, yet you are judging the whole site....

SOAM has helped me through each and every one of my pregnancies and after, when I didn't think I'd ever be "normal" again. It is good to see other women in the same spot as I am, struggling just like I am to love and accept my body, it whatever form that may come. I wish for you body acceptance and love, just like every other woman.

Issa said...

I'm just now 23 weeks pregnant for the first time, so who knows how I'll feel later, but right now I looooove my belly. I realized that I was spending time caressing and lovingly cradling my belly, which seems like I'm interacting with the baby within. But I'm not feeling movement yet, so I really don't have a sense of a baby - I'm really just falling in love with my belly! Which I think is pretty cool! I absolutely can't wait to get bigger and bigger. It's all so fascinating and magical.

I really love the first picture on this post. My belly has gotten the big rounded shape on top and the hanging squishy bits, too, and I was so delighted to see that in the picture. I was sad to see you describe your overhang part as "Eywww." I don't think my belly is eywww, and I don't think yours is, either! I was happy to see another beautiful belly shaped like mine.

I haven't looked around online for photos of other fat pregnant women, but that's a great idea! I'll be pleased to find other images of pregnant women I can relate to.

LisaL said...

Oh I have a hanging gut. It's the part right under my bellybutton that hangs over. And I've never been pregnant so who the hell knows what it will do when I actually get a baby belly!

Nicole said...

@LisaL

I know exactly what you're talking about. I have a "sub-belly" (that's what I call it) too AND I'm pregnant. I'm 17 weeks along and am not too worried about whether I'll show, or not. It's kinda nice to know that I might get to be pregnant 'in peace' without people rubbing my belly for luck. I'll cross the bridge of what will my body do post baby, when I get there.

I'm just happy to be pregnant. My boyfriend and I thought that we'd need assistance in order to get here.

Mira said...

I have read your blog for many years and while I am not sure I will ever be pregnant (due to male factor infertility) I have always loved your message.

I struggled with this post like Lili. I understand that it came from honesty but as someone who has always carried weight in the abdomen (while having very muscular legs, thighs and buttocks) I felt really sad reading this- I know it is not about me but your journey. That is why I didn't know how to take your brutal honesty-I struggled not to personalize it-

It seemed to create some hierarchy of female attractiveness with pears being the bomb (so to speak) and apples being the bottom. In actuality these shapes are bull-shit because no-one is shaped like a fruit!

I also found your discussion of belly fat to lack the intricacy and nuance that you typically use to discuss assertions about body shape and health. While I am familiar with the studies you vaguely reference- I don't think that body shape has to be destiny. Junkfood Science dealt with the belly fat issue, before -debunking a lot of the myths. I am not a scientist but I will say that I work/am working hard to live a healthy lifestyle even with the pendulus abdomen that I inherited from the long line of women in my family with ample tummies...

I still love your blog and I actually feel half glad that you revealed this- but it was a hard read.

C.G. said...

I have had a lot of sadness with my last pregnancy, and my current one (28 weeks now) because I don't look pregnant. I feel really envious of skinnier woman and their adorable baby bumps. Only my close family could tell I was pregnant last time, and then it was close to 7 or 8 months. After my last pregnancy, I have a lot more belly droop (I already had some), and my belly fat was more loose and jiggly.

nsv said...

Anne Lamott calls that part of the belly the "sub-continent," which makes me laugh, even if my post-pregnancy, approaching menopause belly doesn't always. I have the same problem as WRM, except I had never heard of lipodema - nor had my physicians, apparently, because I had asked them about my painful calves and ankles without getting an answer. Ditto on the hypothyroid, with some adrenal fatigue, and amazing amounts of stress in the last few years.

I honor WRM's honest post, and think it strikes the right balance of FA and a forthright description of being inside a particular body. I too had come to appreciate my fat body before this last pregnancy, and now .... well, it's more complicated. It's good that we have a safe space to discuss this.

Tami said...

I can totally relate to pretty much everything you've written in this post. I decided to honor my body in this pregnancy by having professional portraits done. Even though I am not thrilled with my abdomen and will be much less thrilled with it after the baby is born. I actually am discussing surgery very seriously, because all the dieting in the world won't "fix" this stomach and I'm not happy with it, and don't want to live the rest of my life with it. Others may disagree, but that's ok, they aren't living in my body. But that aside, when I was preparing for my portrait session I asked a lot of friends for tips on poses and idea for my pictures, and I was sad that there were several who absolutely refused to do pictures while they were pregnant because they felt fat. Even many who are not "plus-sized" won't do it, because they feel fat and ugly while pregnant. To me, pregnancy is the one time I do feel beautiful despite having a fat belly, because it's the one time that it's "acceptable" to have a big belly!

The Hurlockers said...

My belly at 33 weeks is on my blog side bar. I LOVED it...and can't wait to have one again!! :)

Anonymous said...

I love the belly painting art!! That is a fantastic idea. I am currently trying for #4 and my weight has steadily risen since my first was born 7 years ago (200 before #1, gained 35 preggo pounds and then another 15 random pounds, 250 when I got pregnant with #2, and only gained 5 pounds, and 250 when I got pregnant with #3 and lost 5 pounds during pregnancy. I know I looked pregnant with #1 and #2, but not so much with #3.

Janeen said...

Oh, this post so spoke to me! As you know (since you know quite a bit of my journey), I was in South Korea during most of my pregnancy. South Korea has a 3% obesity rate, much lower than the rate in the US. A plus size woman struggles as it is (heck a NORMAL size American women struggles over there!) but to add pregnancy to that, oh boy. I ended up with SO MUCH self-loathing, it wasn't even funny. At least with my first pregnancy, I was okay and had had some pictures including some with my belly out. This time around? Uh-uh. I had some with clothes on but you can barely tell I'm pregnant. I get a bump on top and it's hard and then there's this flab below it and I was SO not impressed.

A number of things happened during that pregnancy that didn't help, it seemed like there was just so much more in the way of fat bashing during my more recent pregnancy. Hard to say. Sadly, during both pregnancies, hardly anyone asked to touch the belly. My pregnancies really were not celebrated by family at all (outside my husband and daughter anyway). It was hard because I had worked for so long to not let it all get to me and the whole thing was just really hard on my self-esteem. Post pregnancy hasn't been much better and I still cannot believe some of the pictures a friend of mine got of me, still in the hospital, in a hospital gown, BREASTFEEDING. lol Nothing at all like the pictures you would see out there of moms breastfeeding. And I realize I still have a long way to go before I'll even be close to accepting my body. I just hope it comes someday.

Katie Seelinger said...

I almost cried several times reading this. Why? Because it was the first pregnancy body related post that actually spoke to me and understood what I was going through. For the first time I didn't feel alone. Thank you!

I know some people have commented that they have felt put off by some of the language in the post, but I found it honest, real, and relatable. You backed it up with really positive affirmations and ways to encourage a more healthy thought process, and that meant the world. If I can't get myself to think like that everyday on my own, then it is nice that I can turn here and read it as a way to help me cope with my own struggles.

I get so frustrated reading pregnancy magazines, celebrity bump watches, and maternity clothing ads that all cater to the lithe, graceful woman who is happily caressing her perfectly round belly. I will never look like that, and it is often hard not to want to considering the way our culture puts it on a pedestal, claiming it is the most beautiful way to be pregnant.

Your belly painting was so gorgeous and gave me a huge smile to imagine my toddler girl being able to do it in a few months! I am also going to get belly henna done this time around as a way to honor my body instead of being so frustrated with it.

All in all, thank you! You are beautiful both inside and out :) Keep doing what you are doing!

uberaxl said...

I just read yourvpost on the fallout from "Belly Thoughts" and I came here to chime in and say I loved this post. I have read it over and over again and I relate to everything you say. Please don't censor your self of hesitate to post here, I read everything you write and as a fat woman who is six months pregnant with my first child you are one of my main guidelines for how I interact with my health professionals. I am more confident now with questioning them and making more clear what I am expecting from this pregnancy. Thankyou again for this blog, please don't chnage :)

penguinlady said...

As a heavy woman who finally got her first positive pregnancy test (after 5 long years of trying), I really appreciate this thread - and your blog. Thank you for writing about obesity in pregnancy & child-birth. It makes us prepared to fight the fight.

Mira said...

The initial post, as I said before, was a difficult read for me-especially as a big bellied girl. I was not prepared for it-as it was much different from the usual tone of your posts. The trigger warning is a thoughful gesture.

BUT as I said before I am glad you wrote it and I think that you must write honestly.

It's good to be made uncomfortable and be challenged. We don't want to make fat acceptance a fairy tale land where we have to mask who we are and what we think.

So I say keep writing-what you want & how you want.

Secret Admirer said...

My sil didn't look pregnant till really close to the end. I wasn't sure what to do so just avoided the subject completely while wishing I knew the right thing to say. Do you have any suggestions for how close ones around the pregancy can supportively and postively make a contribution both pre and post ?

Anonymous said...

I am pregnant with my first baby and was really surprised when I ACTUALLY started showing EARLY.. like at week 5. I know they say you wont that early but trust me, I have pictures and the belly that popped out that early was obviously a baby bump look as opposed to the "I ate too many burritos" look. I am overweight anyway so I know the difference between my fat belly and pregnant belly. And I needed to buy maternity clothes that early too. I surprised my hubby by embracing it all and embracing my new huge belly as it grew.. He really thought I would fall into the "Im getting fat" trap. But I didnt. of course to be fair my hips and thighs seemed to have shrunk as the belly and books grew... this may have been because the morning sickness was so bad that I lost about 15 pounds. I am now 23 weeks and am still under the prepregnancy weight of 247. Let see what the next 17 weeks bring. lol

Heather Strickland said...

Love this blog, I can relate in all ways of writer. It made me laugh just to have the I'm not alone feeling. I have about 11weeks left and get to.meet this little one!

Destin said...

The first picture above looks like my belly. I am a bigger girl and no one thinks i look pregnant except my mom and some people who really pay attention to me. Everyone is shocked to hear i am 29 weeks. And thankyou for making this it really eased my mind with a lot of things. :)