I need to admit something. It’s embarrassing, it causes me shame, but I’m putting it out there.
I didn’t want to be pregnant because I didn’t want to get fat.
Here I am, just out of my first trimester with our #bonusbaby, and all my body image issues–which I thought I had dealt with and buried–re-emerge from the depths of my deepest shame.
It’s not that I didn’t want a third child. I very much did. So much so that my husband and I were in the process of finishing paperwork to become foster parents (something we are passionate about).
I love being a mom. I love watching my babies turn from curious, feisty toddlers, to whiny, clingy schoolchildren and then, inevitably, to hormonal and moody (yet, independent) teenagers (I’m just a year away from that one!). It is the best job ever.
I also know that there are many couples out there, praying and begging God to become parents. (Which only increases my shame that my first thought when I saw the blue line on the pregnancy test was, “I can’t get fat again!”)
My second immediate thought was one of fear. The kind of fear that causes tears to stream down your face without warning. “What if I lose the baby? I won’t be able to recover from that!”
Both statements selfish, both statements showing a major lack of trust. (Ironic considering Trust is my word of the year.)
My first two pregnancies taught me that I don’t just gain a cute baby belly. I gain in my arms, my hips, my legs, my feet. Even my nose gets fat with pregnancy.
With my second, at 32, I did the same thing and gained 35 pounds. I spent nine months drinking Dr. Pepper and eating gallons of sugar, with this rationale: I was “eating for two.” But those last 20 pounds hung on–unexpectedly resulting in a new style of body image issues and shame.
So, I worked. I focused on health over weight loss. I quit weighing, even. And, through lots of prayer, I really thought I had conquered the body image demon.
Enter third pregnancy. I’ve started weighing again, paranoid that I’ll blow up like I did the previous two pregnancies. I measure my leg size by putting them together and standing in front of the mirror, trying to determine if they’ve expanded yet or not. I spend a lot of time in front of the mirror, trying to decide if my belly looks more like beer gut. I still work out for the mental benefits, but I worry more and more that what I’m doing won’t burn off those extra calories I’m consuming (which I find myself tallying, after years of killing the calorie-counting beast!)
I maintain healthy habits, but now, also, feel INCREDIBLY guilty when I decide I want a Reese’s Blizzard with extra Heath pieces added in (Yes, they can do that!). Much guiltier than I should.
On a deeper level, I struggle with great amounts of fear. Fear about the baby’s health, my health, the labor. Did I fail to mention that my babies like to take a loooong time to arrive? First baby – 33 hours. Second baby with induction – 17 hours. Both experiences came with some scary moments that I prefer not to repeat.
Did I mention my word of the year is trust?
Slowly, throughout this process, I know I am being molded and shaped by my Creator. He reassures me through timely sermons. Through my lunchtime prayer sessions, He softens my scattered spirit. When I feel those little baby flutters, I can rejoice at the new life that I have opportunity to carry. I can trust that “every good and perfect gift comes from above” – even a good and perfect gift that scares all logical thought right out of me and turns me into a shaking, fearful shadow of myself. My Heavenly Father takes those fears and reminds me to give them to Him. I have a difficult journey ahead of me, six more months of mirrors and mental battles. But I am learning to Trust God with every step.
I know it will be worth it in the end. As long as I can get that message through to my thighs.
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.