February 09, 2010

Body Image and Pregnancy

I have shared a lot of the details of my pregnancy with you, my readers. However, one topic that I have spoken little about is my body image during this pregnancy.

Sure, I have posted my weekly weight gains and whether or not I had developed stretch marks. But I have never allowed you inside my head, to know how I was feeling as I watched my body change (almost daily) before my eyes – and with very little control on my part.

Long time readers know that for several years, I suffered from an eating disorder and extremely low self-esteem. It took nearly four years of therapy and fighting before I was able to let go of my ED and finally accept my body (and in a larger sense myself) exactly the way that I was…….so when I discovered that I was pregnant, I worried that my ED would rear its head.

It has not. From nearly the moment I knew that I was going to become a mother, I started thinking about how my view of my body would potentially influence the way my unborn child saw his/her self – and I knew that I never wanted my child to experience the horrors that I had faced while battling and recovering from my eating disorder. M and I set down and had a long talk about my expectations of pregnancy: what was a healthy weight to gain, how would my exercise regime change, how to eat healthy, and finally how to accept the changes that would inevitably come. Then I had the same conversation with my doctor.

In a nutshell, I created a “game-plan” for pregnancy. With the doctor’s permission, I have been able to continue my exercise program, modifying for my condition as necessary. I have tried to eat as clean and healthy as possible…..but allowing myself pregnancy induced indulgences. Most importantly, I daily remind myself that I am growing a life – a precious little girl who is strong, healthy, and to her Daddy and I absolutely perfect.

Yes, there have been moments where I have called myself “fat”. However, M is quick to admonish me that I am not fat, that the weight I have gained is helping our daughter to grown. To quote him directly “However, I think that you have done fantastically so far and I am very proud of how you have been able to handle everything. You are a much stronger woman than I could have ever imagined.”

And that’s the most important thing, my focus is not on a final number on the scale or the label of a pair of pants. Instead, I am embracing the fact that I am 9 months pregnant and probably the healthiest I have ever been. I have gained aerobic endurance and muscle tone. Moreover, I love the body I have now - I have never felt more beautiful.

What about after Joycelen’s birth, you are probably wondering? Will I still feel as confident, as beautiful? If the number on the scale never goes back to where it was 9 months ago, will I be happy? The answer is a resounding yes. Any stretch mark, pound gained, or change in my body shape is worth it because I will be holding my beautiful baby girl. Yes, I will work to get back into my pre-pregnancy shape --- but I also understand that pregnancy takes a huge toll on the body and I am not expecting the changes to come immediately. After all it took 9 months to get this body, it might take just as long to get back to the old me. And if I don’t reach the old me, I will embrace the new me – a strong, beautiful, confident woman who has the privilege and blessing of being a mother….and who will be tasked with raising a daughter who loves herself no matter her shape or her size.


Jennifer said...

I think you have done a fantastic job and I think there is nothing more beautiful than a pregnant belly (as weird as that sounds). For me, I never feel as pretty as when I have a little basketball tummy sticking out in front of me!

Kathie Brinkman said...

Awesome post Kimberly. I had been wondering about all this. Glad you have made peace with your body. We are more than our body anyway. It is not eternal. It will age, it will develop wrinkles and sags, but our souls which are eternal and which will enter heaven do not age or wrinkle. Taking good care of our physical bodies is a good thing and a holy thing, but our bodies do change and break down. Glad you're now focusing on the more eternal things--relationships. those are the ONLY things that will last forever.
And jennifer--I too always felt beautiful during my pregnancies, sexy even! it was probably the hormones!!! ahahaha

Kari said...

That is so wonderful that your body image - and your health - have improved, if anything, throughout your pregnancy. I hope you are proud of keeping your body and mind so healthy, especially in light of having so many struggles in the past. What a wonderful message to share with your daughter when she is older!

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you, you have finally seen what I have always seen. Love ya!