The Pregnancy and Body Image Series continues with this post from Erin on coveting her neighbor’s baby belly!
“You’re 20 weeks? You don’t even look pregnant!”
“You’re pregnant? I would never have known it!”
“Congratulations! You’re what, like 3 months?”
Nope, try like five!
I covet cute baby bellies. The kinds that look like soccer balls, then basketballs. The kind that sit propped and centered on toned bodies, highlighting the small size of their owner’s arms and legs.
I’m on my third pregnancy, and thought for sure I’d get a cute belly this time. My uterus is well-seasoned. It’s good to go.
Alas, at 20 weeks, I finally told my 7th grade students about the pregnancy and they sat stunned. The same kids who notice EVERYTHING– from the days I wear too much black (“Are you going to a funeral today, Mrs. Kerry?”) to the days I don’t wear eye makeup (“What’s wrong with you today? Are you sick?”)–could not even tell that my belly was growing.
I can tell. But even my dear husband is sick of me asking, “Do I look pregnant today?” He finally told me about a week ago he can tell my tummy is getting bigger. But too little too late. I fear one day I’m just going to blow up like the Michelin Man, and finally get my belly – but get so much of everything else you won’t even be able to notice.
Every pregnant woman I see at the mall, in the grocery store, at restaurants, I stare at their bellies, comparing mine to theirs.
Why can’t I look like that? Is it because I’m too fat to begin with? Is it all just blending in with my typically “hipcentric” shape? Or maybe I’m gaining too much weight, so it’s blending in with my excess hips and thighs.
The worst is when people tell me how lucky I am that I’m not showing yet? Seriously? I’m going through all this effort of carrying a human and I’m LUCKY that I have nothing to show for it?
I found an Instagram post of myself at 20 weeks pregnant with Roman, my second, and the caption reads, “If you say I don’t look pregnant, I will cut you.” I get a little gangsta when I’m pregnant. But you know what’s sad? I really don’t look pregnant in that picture. I can see that now.
So what is my problem? Here I am, pregnant with probably my last biological child, and I’m STILL consumed with comparison. When I’m not pregnant, I compare. When I’m pregnant, I compare. Instead of appreciating the life growing within me, I’m caught up in how I’m growing on the outside.
Today I realized I received a gift with this pregnancy. Not just the gift of a growing life inside of me, but a gift to reevaluate how I see myself, and how my Heavenly Father sees me.
Before I got pregnant, I thought I mastered my body image issues (well, almost, anyway). But at every turn of this pregnancy, God has given me something to turn to Him for. To set my eyes on Jesus, who is the true source of my peace. My peace does not depend on whether I conquered my body image issues or whether I experience a “feel good about myself” day. It comes from Him, because when I take my eyes off Him, I lose my focus. I start to think it’s about me and what I can tell myself to end all my issues.
I think that if I tell myself enough positive things, it’ll cancel out the negatives. That doesn’t work. What works? Taking my strongholds and giving them to the Lord. Only He can take that clenched up ball of nerves in the pit of my stomach and relax them. This pregnancy is my opportunity to seek Him first in every way, over and over again.
What a gift!
Erin Kerry is wife to Richard and “mama” to Isabel and Roman. She works as an English teacher and ESL Department Head for a middle school in Plano, Texas as well as ambassador for Plexus Worldwide. She loves bingeing on Netflix with her husband, playing games with her kids, getting sucked into a good book, running races (slowly), discovering unique craft beers, and trying out new Mexican restaurants. Read Erin’s posts here.