There are (obviously) a lot of changes that come with being pregnant. Your marriage changes because you both have to grow up a little. Your home changes as you baby-proof and create a nursery. However, the hardest change, at least in my opinion, has been the changes the body goes through.
If you’ve never been pregnant, there are a few things that happen to your body that they don’t mention in the movies. For one, the growth of the twins (not the babies, but the boobies). By the end of the first trimester, I had to buy an entirely new set of bras because I was not only busting out of the cups, but the bras would barely snap. There’s the sciatica nerve pain that prevents you from walking like a normal person, thus causing us pregnant ladies to settle on a waddle. Let’s not forget pregnancy brain (this is real, I cannot form sentences or remember anything of importance). But of all these things, the weight gain has been the hardest with which to cope.
I’ve struggled with my body, as most people have, since a pretty young age. I remember the first time I realized I was bigger than other girls was in third grade at a pool party. It’s the first time I compared myself to anyone else my age. I’ve been the tallest in my class since fourth grade and I’ve always had a little more meat on my bones than most. Things, of course, became harder in middle school, especially when my mom signed me up for cotillion. Have you ever been forced to ballroom dance with a boy 2 feet shorter than you and 60 pounds lighter? Forget the dip or a spin.
By the time high school rolled around, I was actually shocked to see boys my age could be taller than me. I had no idea they existed. I stuck out way less in the hallways, but I continued to struggle with being a little heavier set. I was on the dance team and it was our job to cheer on the football team. I remember announcers calling out the names of the players with their height and weight. Have you ever realized you’ve got 20 pounds on the quarterback at age 16? (Put me in, coach).
However, when college rolled around, I really began to accept myself and the image in the mirror. Though my weight fluctuated, I found myself comfortable at any and all of my weights, whether I was 10 pounds heavier or lighter. I embraced my height and weight, loved my curves and deemed myself “fit, but still enjoys carbs.” I danced in college, as well, and my height guaranteed me a spot on center on the fifty-yard line, but my extra weight kept me from making “special teams” that I tried out for. When I would ask for critiques, weight was usually the culprit. However, I let things slide off my shoulder and my extra weight carried me through tons of field and stage performances. I almost began to see my body as a machine and I was proud of it. This mindset carried on through graduation and the beginning of my marriage. Happy with my body, happy with its capabilities.
So why am I telling you this? Well, fast forward to now, 22 weeks pregnant with twins. For the last 22 weeks, I have been visiting the doctor anywhere from every two to every four weeks. My weight gain has been a shocking number to wrap my head around. The doctor is highly pleased. I’m not gaining weight too quickly or too slowly for a mom of twins. I’m “right on track,” he says. This brings very little comfort when you step on the scale and realize you’ve gained 12 pounds in the last four weeks. You read that correctly…twelve. Then, you go back to the doctor three weeks later to find you’ve gained twelve more in an even shorter window of time. All in all, I’ve gained nearly 30 pounds. That’s what a lot of pregnant women gain TOTAL. I’m not even near the end yet.
Now, 30 pounds in five months would be easier to swallow if it weren’t changing my body’s appearance from the outside: the stretch marks, y’all. The mom boobs. It’s happening.
As I’ve previously stated, I’ve never been a small girl. Stretch marks are old friends of mine. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have stretch marks. However, they’ve always been light and easy to conceal, so I’ve never been horribly upset about them. I guess you could say I “embraced my stripes.”
These pregnancy stretch marks are a different breed. They slither up my sides in a dark, glowing red, making themselves known above the waistlines of my shorts. They grow in number with each added pound, determined to wrap themselves around my stomach’s circumference. They’ve begun to crawl down my back to erupt across my tushy-cheeks and with each passing day, I notice new territories of my skin in which they’ve invaded.
To add to appearances, the added weight on my boobs has begun to make them sag. The once perky bosom of my youth is gone. I swear if my nipples were eyeballs, they could tell me if my shoelaces were untied. I’m hoping to breastfeed the twins, which I know will result in my having even saggier, breastfeeding boobies that will hang down to my belly button. I’m over exaggerating (probably), but you get my point.
I’ve maintained my emotions fairly well throughout this pregnancy. I haven’t freaked out or cried or done anything rash or out of the ordinary. I haven’t been mean or snappy or lost control. The times I have cried have been due to catching glimpses of this new body in the mirror. The fear that comes with this kind of change is heavy. After all, you only get one body and mine is changing….quickly, I might add.
Luckily, I’ve been gifted with a husband who knows what to say. Twice now, I’ve roped him into these feelings of insecurity and each time he’s offered me the acceptance and grace I could not give myself. Twice now, he has made me look at what my body is doing, what my body is growing.
“I love all that you’re becoming,” he says, as he strokes my cheek.
This hit me a little different. So profound and delicately put and he doesn’t even know it. Pregnancy is truly a journey. It is a journey of the growth of a child, yes, but it is also the growth of a new mother. The new mother I am becoming.
So why was I able to proudly see my body as a machine as a dancer, but I see it for its imperfections as it is literally growing two humans? Why was I okay with my weight as it fluctuated, but not get excited for each pound that I gain as my babies grow with me?
I have my fair share of scars from the accident-prone lifestyle I’ve lived. Each one tells a story. A scar from stitches on my thumb where I sliced it open on a can during lunch in elementary school. I have a burn on my ankle from where I danced around the campfire with my sisters at a campout. The bones of my skeleton have tons of fracture scars from the ungodly amount of bones I’ve broken in my life.
And now, my stomach will have scars in the form of stretch marks. This will tell my favorite story: how my two little boys came to be.
God made me tall and gave me a little extra weight. He gave me a sturdy foundation in which to grow these two little boys. I cannot imagine being shorter or smaller than I am. I feel that God made my body capable and strong because He knew I’d need it to carry twins.
I owe it to myself to be proud of the work my body is doing. Every mama should be. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. I am humbled and I am blessed. That first glimpse of the twins will make every stretch mark and saggy boob worth it.
I will learn to love what I am becoming: a mama. It took me years to love and accept my pre-pregnancy body. I will continue to accept and work to love my pregnancy body. And I will grow to love my postpartum body.
Because of this body, I am becoming a mom.