Friday, January 16, 2009

ch-ch-ch-changes

Women have body issues. It's just a fact. Every single one of us has something: that hair that appears on our chin, never noticed until it's 3 inches long, dark and disturbingly pubic in nature; the cellulite that formed on our thighs before we could legally drink; the weight we carry in our asses or our bellies or our thighs or our tits, always wishing we were carrying it in any other spot. Tall, thin, gorgeous women feel gangly and their limbs unwieldy (or so I'm told). Short women feel dumpy, frumpy and often lumpy. And regardless of how much they pay for that perfect, sassy haircut that everyone loves, every woman on earth has issues with their hair. I'm sure of it.

I am not immune. I definitely have my issues. My mother and (ex)stepfather found it amusing at 14 to talk about how big my ass was. "You could show movies on that thing!" It wasn't cruel - you don't make it in our family without withstanding merciless teasing - but I don't think they realized how formative those years are, how delicate self-esteem is at that age, and so I still, at more than twice that age, feel self conscious about my bottom. Thank god my husband is an ass man.

But all things considered I have a fairly healthy bodily self-image. I gained more than 20 pounds between meeting my husband and marrying him. I didn't love the weight, but I did love eating and laziness and therefore was never driven to do anything about the growing waistline and never resisted the increase in pants size. I have on numerous occasions gone from nipple-obscuring-length hair to a Winonna-esque pixie with one snip of the scissors. Just 2 weeks after losing my twins I walked into a hairdresser I'd never seen and told him to give me a drastic change - whatever he wanted, just something different. Hair grows back, this I know, and I treat it as such. I've watched my boobs go from B-cups to Cs and enjoyed the change, and was equally unfazed when those Cs shriveled to As, simply taking up the banner of small chested women everywhere. My body is simply that: a body. It isn't me and I'm not it.

That is, apparently, until that body no longer belonged to just me. Now that I'm being inhabited by another being (eek!) I'm finding that changes I expected to embrace are sometimes difficult to take. I love my belly. I embrace my belly. Even when the baby was the size of a poppy seed, but my abdomen was so bloated I looked like a stereotypical Ethiopian child, I loved my belly. But the first time I glanced in the mirror and noticed that my pert, perky boobs were suddenly looking sad and forlorn - literally downcast - I felt a surprising sting. I had known that motherhood would bring changes and that the breasts I'd recognized would be lost forever, but I expected those changes to happen while breastfeeding or after weaning. I didn't know that staring at my tits at 12w I would be shocked by how matronly they'd become. And it's an image I still haven't adjusted to.

I'm not an idiot - I knew the numbers on the scale would grow, that my baby wasn't healthy if they didn't. But I didn't expect to flinch when seeing that growth flashing obnoxiously on the scale below me. Had I known this I would've given my OB a fully-clothed, shoe-wearing, post-pasta-eating pre-pregnancy weight by which she could track my gains. Never would I have provided her with my at-home weight, which has always been taken first thing in the morning, after peeing, before eating, butt-ass naked. Because when I hear her say I've gained X pounds I have to restrain myself from pointing out that my shoes must account for at least 3 of those.

And when my mother told me, at 17w, that I was starting to waddle? Well, I don't care how steely your self-esteem, no one gets past the word "waddle" without cringing.

I thought I would be different; I thought I was an earth-mother. I expected to embrace bodily changes like the changing of the season. I thought I'd be proud of pregnancy acne and feel womanly in my spreading hips, but even I can't revel in nipples the size of dinner plates (regardless of the fact that come June they will serve as just that). I love my baby and I genuinely love being pregnant. But I've come to realize that you'd have to be a saint to love your stretch marks.

Oh god...stretch marks. I'd better learn to embrace my new reality or it's going to be a long 5 months...

16 comments:

KandiB said...

What a fabulous post. It's all so, so true. I, too, look at the girls and wonder what has become of them...knowing they'll get a lot worse before they get any better. I'm at 18 wks and look like I'm about 25. So fun!

Emily said...

Sorry you are a little uncomfortable in your own skin right now.

I got a good laugh at the "ass so big you could show a movie on it comment." I too am of the girls Sir Mix-a-Lot would be proud to love ;)

I am sure you are beautiful and glowing waddle or not!

Lisa said...

Thanks for the honesty - I am just getting used to my IVF riddled body!

My ass is flat but I have always had a round stomach - I always wanted them to trade places!

Foreverloves said...

We transferred on the same day - for us, we did one five day blast (FET) that resulted in a BFP. So we are precisely the same amount pregnant. Strange, isnt it??

I feel almost as you do with my body, with one exception: stretch marks. During the pregnancy with my twins, I despised them. DESPISED them. Then my twins perished at 21 weeks, and I couldn't look at my body for a while. But later on, as I returned to "semi-normal" (can't be normal again after delivering two boys) I grew to love my stretch marks. I viewed those marks as the crayon marks that my sons scrawled across my stomach. It was proof that they were there. They were never here or old enough to write their names, so they left their mark on my body. This baby is making her marks on my body too - so I will treasure that. If I get to keep her, perhaps I'll hate those marks again. They are unsightly, but I truly look at them as the art my sons left me with.

But waddle? Yeah. I wouldn't like that either!

Cara said...

Ah - stretch marks. The gift that keeps on giving. Great post. A wonderfully witty way of looking at pregnancy.

Lorraine said...

I have been thinking almost the exact same things lately. I always wear lightweight clothing to the weigh-ins, just to avoid the hiking-boot weight gain problem from my second appointment.

After my daughter was born, my boobs were floppy and although my stomach looked mostly normal, if I bent over it sagged like an old hammock. I think things got better over the years, but maybe I just got used to it all...

Now that I'm OLD, I'm just preparing myself for the worst and hoping to be pleasantly surprised if it isn't as dreadful as I'm expecting!

Pepper said...

I have a couple of friends who got pg after years of IF and each has said that it ain't all sunshine and roses. One doesn't even look pg to me and she says that she feels so HUGE.

Ah. The things they never tell you. :-)

Jessatsea said...

because you worked so hard for it... and longed so much for it... it should mean that you are spared those lovely body image issues. Alas... what fun would THAT be? ;)

you're beautiful! I promise you!

JenM said...

I don't think I've posted since you found out you were pregnant! So first of all - congrats!

Second of all, it's strange being upset about the changes our bodies go through when we get pregnant after all we had to do to get here. . .but it's normal. Embrace your inner Earth Mama!

Lawfrog said...

Changes in the hot bods we've known and loved for many years is so difficult whether those changes come through pregnancy, weight gain, illness, or anything else.

What I know for sure is that no matter what, you are beautiful and you are going to be such a great mother. I am still so happy every time I think about you and your impending little one.

abgs said...

Love this post! You said it all and ever so well!

theworms said...

Amber - I love your posts! So much I want to see more so there is a blog award for you on my blog :) I'm trying to force you to post.

sloanzookpr said...

This is the first time I've read your blog: AWESOME! As someone who has never planned a pregnacy or tried to get pg it kicks my ass back where it should be humble and greatful. You are a strong woman and an inspiration. I'm pg with my third child and due at the end of June. Please keep up the blog cause I'm now hooked.
I'm with you on the whole body thing. It's been worse this go around cause I'm still packing #2's weight. The girls are not what they use to be!

Kymberli said...

We need an update, Amber, and I left an award for you on my blog!

Genevieve said...

I agree.
update please!
and add some photos of that big white belly!!!!
I wanna see it!

kbarsch said...

I third that opinion--post again soon!!!