Well… according to some it would appear that way.
Maybe it’s some sort of thing you’re just supposed to experience at some point during pregnancy… like a weird rite of passage. For someone to say something insensitive, undermining, or inconsiderate.
I actually thought I was going to get through this pregnancy relatively unscathed by the outside world – I thought that maybe because I chose to experience such tremendous self-inflicted mental and emotional hardship that it would somehow fulfill this weird self-esteem deterioration quota and no one would say dumb, hurtful things to pregnant-me.
While in New York City with my mum, we stopped to grab a snack – an unplanned stop that was inspired entirely by my need to pee. When we got up from our brief meal, an elderly woman looked at me rather expressionless and said: “Twins?”
I smiled awkwardly: “No.” I hoped she’d back-pedal or perhaps show some sign of sheepishness because this type of question is much like asking a woman if she’s pregnant and finding out she’s not. Sort of a social faux-pas, right? I put too much faith in this particular stranger.
“Are you sure?”
My smile tightened – “I’m sure, yes.” I’m now picking up my pace and hoping this exchange will end – ah, but not before she gets one final comment in there: “I think it’s twins.”
Cool. Thank you lady. I now feel like a million bucks.
This part of pregnancy has been tough for me. The whole weight thing. I have never weighed this much my entire life. And I’ve been mentally trying to balance this whole concept: weight is okay because you’re pregnant… but also, don’t gain too much because that’s an unhealthy pregnancy… It’s kind of been a trip. I’ve had periods of eating really well, really healthy foods – and I’ve had other periods where I’ve been sustained entirely on pizza pops, burgers, cheese, and bagels.
I’ve struggled with my body image a lot. I have had a lot of flare ups from my eating disorder days. I have a hard time looking at photos of myself. I have this very noisy mind-goblin that’s done a great job of making sure I notice the people around me that are carrying their babies and their weight tremendously more gracefully than I.
I really don’t want be crowding my brain with this type of bullshit because I believe that my mind is a space of limitless potential, and it does such a disservice to invest any amount of its power into this. My mental real estate is of great value, and I won’t be letting the slums take over the neighbourhood.
I started feeling a lot physically better in my pregnancy approaching the 6th month mark. I also started to level out emotionally. I started to be able to catch some of the waves and patterns, anticipate more challenging days and manage them with greater ease. It was at this point I decided I also wanted to consciously change my attitude towards this experience. I didn’t want to have a crappy pregnancy. I didn’t want to be someone that ‘hated being pregnant’.
I see pregnancy as an opportunity, and a gift – regardless of the challenges it’s brought into my head (and my ability to fit pants). It doesn’t escape me that what is happening within me right now is really phenomenal. To have your body facilitate the process of creating an actual living, breathing, human life – from a few tiny cells. It’s remarkable, truly.
I wanted to be able to be present with this experience, and create joy in it. I still had these last few months to do so!
And I feel that I’ve done a pretty good job since I decided to change my own mind about the whole thing. I’ve become better at laughing at my cumbersome and awkward moments, rolling with the rolls (badum tsss), and even embracing the vastness that has become my rear end.
But it doesn’t mean it’s not hard some days. And unfortunately it still hurts when someone, who probably intends no harm, comments on my size with a complete absence of awareness and just so happens to trigger my dormant insecurity. Disturbing the fragile peace that I’ve created.
After my interaction with this woman (and a an afternoon of obsessively assessing my body in every reflective surface I saw) I sent texts to a couple close friends because I needed support outside myself to help regain my stability. They offered incredible, wise words of encouragement and love; and helped me to patch up these emotional owies and rebuild my self-esteem.
It made me think – that maybe these challenges that shake us, that deeply affect our self-esteem and inner sense of value and worthiness… maybe it’s in these moments of vulnerability and fragility that we’re forced into the care of our surrounding networks. Maybe that’s the point.
I’ve been wildly independent for my whole life. I have always liked to be alone. I have travelled more often by myself than I ever have with a companion. Until only recently, I have operated an entire career as my own manager, booking agent, book keeper, marketer (etc). All the sports I played in High School were solo-type sports (track & field). I can suck at reaching out. I can suck at relying on a network.
I have been repeatedly humbled during this pregnancy by needing help… and maybe it’s all a part of laying the groundwork for when this baby actually arrives. I’ll need to open myself up to ask for more help than ever before.
So, thanks lady. For making me feel temporarily like garbage so that I could practice reaching out, and letting myself be supported, loved, and encouraged by the amazing people I have close to me.