Thursday, June 1, 2017

The One Sentence that Realigned My Pregnancy Priorities

+JMJ+

Pregnancy is unlike anything else in this world. I know I'm stating the obvious here, but the changes that take place in a woman's body during pregnancy are crazy, amazing, marvelous, and weird all at once. 

During my first pregnancy I was an unemployed newlywed (because we knew my husband's contract would have us moving soon, so a job made no sense unless I wanted my resume to look flaky); I occasionally babysat for a family I knew through college connections or substituted at our parish's school, but I had a LOT of downtime in which I read a lot of blogs and wrote my own. Thankfully, reading about pregnancy and postpartum life from the perspectives of many other Catholic women helped better prepare me mentally and emotionally for much of what I would experience. 

Truly, all those blogs helped me be realistic about many things I have witnessed other new mamas struggling with, especially in regards to body image. I am no expert, but all that reading combined with my background in kinesiology as a Fitness Specialist has always helped me maintain a pretty healthy mindset when it came to all the physical changes related to pregnancy. I found myself learning and embracing phrases like "9 months on, 9 months off," which taught me to be patient with my body; by the time my second baby was born and losing the weight was a slower process than the first I had no problem allowing my body at least the same amount of time it took to grow a baby to eventually lose all the weight.

Still, pregnancy is a roller coaster of physical changes and emotions that gets the best of all of us at times. And boy, does the Enemy have a way of making even the most confident ladies manage to feel self-conscious at every possible moment of weakness he can use.

In my head I have always known it is perfectly normal to "show" sooner with subsequent pregnancies, but I didn't have a visible baby bump too much sooner with my second than my first. So, during this third pregnancy when I had strangers already noticing at 13 weeks I admittedly felt self-conscious. My brain was telling me all this was normal, but I still felt caught off-guard by showing SO soon! 

Even when well-meaning friends commented on my baby bump I would smile, but internally I felt myself cringing because it seemed too early; on some level I guess I was worried that showing as much as I did early on might correlate to increased pregnancy weight gain in the end...which is silly and not necessarily the case, but it did cross my mind.

14 weeks

Then, at 14 weeks pregnant I had a play date with a friend. Before we said our goodbyes she said one thing that completely realigned my thinking. We spoke about how far along I was and I sheepishly said, "yeahhh, I'm showing already." Immediately she sincerely exclaimed, 

"Isn't that SO exciting?! I'm so happy for you!"

Instantly I felt myself grinning; all those silly body-conscious reflections fled from my thoughts and all of a sudden I felt 100% at peace and SO joyful about having a visible bump so early on! I snapped the above photo that very night in an effort to shed any remaining timidity and more fully embrace the joy I have been so undeservedly given.

All it took was once sentence from a kind-hearted, good-natured soul to completely reorient my thoughts and priorities in a positive way. 

This is why we need friends, y'all. 

With each of my previous pregnancies I remember distinctly wishing I could always show sooner; once I had been granted that wish I was foolishly acting diffident about it! Thankfully God used my friend to help me stop wasting my thoughts on something so ridiculous.

16 weeks

Ever since that day I haven't been worried about weight gain or what my bump may or may not look like, which is absolutely a grace. Instead I have been able to simply focus on the gift of our daughter's life and spend my time being excited and praying for her. Even if I were to gain more weight during this pregnancy, I would gladly do it if it's what our little girl needed to grow; that's a crucial aspect of motherhood, right? It's about humbly putting our own fears or insecurities aside and - in a way - offering up our own bodies for the sake of caring for another.

At 20 weeks pregnant I currently find myself wondering how the time flies so quickly as I scramble to embrace every little happy moment or milestone before it completely passes me by! Thank Goodness for friends that get us out of our heads and help us rightly see the joy and beauty we are surrounded with!

"Friends are medicine for a wounded heart and vitamins for a hopeful soul."
-Steve Maraboli

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