I’m 35 and pregnant. According to legitimate medical sources, this means my vagina has begun to wither up and die like an old rotting flower. J/K it’s a moderately insignificant date that someone pointed to on the life of a woman’s reproductive health life line (but things actually start going down hill at 30, NEAT). Anyway, I’m not actually old AF and my baby is not going to have flippers (don’t worry, I checked the ultrasound many times to make sure). This is also my third pregnancy, and will be my second birth. And without a doubt, this is the first time in my entire life that I have loved my body.
I matured… early. I started getting nubs at 9 and my first memory of being sexualized was in 5th grade as one of the few girls who had the pleasure of pre-pubescent boys snapping my bra on a daily basis. During church summer camp the next year, those girls who didn’t have the honor of being harassed by those boys harassed ME by coming up with the secret term “flowers” for whenever my bra strap was showing (which was always. Thanks a lot for that wide-necked t-shirt fad, ESPIRIT).
Though athletic, I was also blessed with genes that make a flat stomach literally impossible, and those boobs never went away, and by the time I was old enough to appreciate them, they had already surpassed their perky greatness and needed 2-3 hooks and at least 3/4 of an inch of strap to accomplish any form of support. In high school I uncomfortably wore bikinis that showed way too much butt skin and had to be purchased from the special swimsuit store at the mall as to ensure no nip slips.
Throughout my twenties I continued to painfully wear bikini’s that were too small for me, but pretended to be confident enough not to care. I trained for triathlons and wore sports bras as my swimming suit because nothing else could provide the support I needed, and even at my very lowest weight still felt wildly uncomfortable taking off my shirt for a sports event.
Thank god for the sanity of my late 20s and Modcloth (off topic, but RIP Modcloth), I was finally able to start wearing one pieces that gave me coverage and support without making me look like a 90s mom (I believe this is part of the Lands’ End Mission statement) and only causing me mild amounts of discomfort. Shortly after this time, I became pregnant with twins. I always imagined loving my pregnant body, as I so desperately wanted (and tried) to become pregnant, but when you’re growing two humans, no amount of bio-oil or organic hippie belly butter will keep you from getting stretch marks and skin flaps and let’s not even talk about my boobs. I was positive, by the age of 32, that loving my body was simply not in the cards. I invested in high-waisted jeans (THANK YOU GOD FOR THOSE BEING IN STYLE) blousy tops and heavy duty (read $70) bras to cart around my larger than life boobs which never shrunk after breastfeeding as promised by so many.
This past year, two things happened. First, I grew to accept the parts of my body I could not change. I ordered a bikini even though I had those stretch marks. It FIT, and was flattering and felt even better than many of those cute one pieces that I had been so in love with in my late 20s.
Second, I got spontaneously pregnant. This is not a big deal if you’re 70% of the population who gets pregnant when their partner looks at them the right way, but after you drop mad bank going through infertility, this is a big fucking deal. And guys? My body looks fucking awesome. I’m 39 weeks pregnant and yes I still have those stretch marks (the kids draw tiger stripes on their portraits of me, neat) and TRUE, without a bra on I feel like this:
But then I look at the other parts of me that have changed. My face is slim and maturing but well cared for (because #skincancer). My arms are toned because I still pick up my almost 5 year olds when they’re sad because I fucking can. And my legs are carrying around a big ole’ baby and these boobs and my tiger stripes and damn it. I’m beautiful.
This feeling may be short lived (please help me in willing this baby to come out on Monday, kthanx) but I hope that just the experience of feeling this love, even for a short time will carry me into a new place I didn’t know existed. I don’t expect to ever worship myself the way my children or husband do, to see past the flaws society and I have tangled together over so many years, but approaching this temple with peace… I hope that is manageable.