On Pregnancy, Vanity, And The Lies We Tell Ourselves (And Others)

by Bee Quammie

I’m about a month away from the estimated due date of my first child, and to say I’ve learned new lessons about myself and this journey is the understatement of the year. The battle between authenticity and dishonesty is one that I didn’t realize would be so prevalent, but here we are.

Let me explain.

Being around other pregnant women during these last few months, I’ve learned that there’s almost always at least one thing that we’re dishonest about, whether to quell our own anxieties or to please and impress others. Maybe it's denying the fact that we're REALLY hoping for a little boy or girl, but simply stating "As long as the baby is healthy..." Maybe it's proclaiming proudly that there's no way we'll divert from our silent, meditative natural birth when that little voice deep inside says "Well, you MIGHT want that epidural..." For me, my moment of honesty came when I acknowledged my vanity, set aside my spotty confidence, and admitted that I'm nervous about what pregnancy, labour, and delivery will do to my body.

After years of wavering between extreme dislike to reluctant, shoulder-shrugging acceptance, I finally started to really like the way my body looked. I fell into a love affair with my limbs and length, and I’d wager to say that my newfound confidence led to a sensual freedom and stress release that helped me get pregnant in the first place. Not only did I like how my body looked, I was impressed with its ability to do something I wasn’t sure it would be able to do. The journey began blissfully, but 8 months later, I’m wondering, “What next?”

I actually adore my pregnant body - the blooming process of my belly and breasts, the rounding of my hips and ass, the beautiful hair and skin I got after my body adjusted to the new surge of hormones - I’ve enjoyed it all. Reading about the post-pregnancy realities for many women has me wondering how I’ll adjust and what my body love will look like once my child is born. When things return to a new normal, will I be able to find beauty in the change? Or will I be longing for the way things used to be? I stay physically active because I’m told it helps to make labour and delivery easier - but other honest moms have said it helps with that figure snap-back post-baby, too. And though there’s no guaranteed potion for avoiding stretchmarks, I still climb into bed freshly greased up and hope for the best. I don’t deny that I’m a visual creature - a woman who acknowledges that for her, looking good is part of feeling good. Vain? Maybe. Honest? Yes.

Then in the next moment, I feel horrible and guilty for giving in to that vanity - shouldn't I just be blessed that my body is capable of working this magic? Isn't this part of the sacrifice and exchange we make to bring life into the world? Am I, as Kanye West once said, worried ‘bout the wrong things? I've read a multitude of blog posts and magazine articles from blissful moms who've embraced their post-baby bodies. For many, the perfection of their bodies' capabilities outweighs any resulting physical imperfection - those imperfections are proud markers of accomplishment, and are viewed as a new kind of beauty. My question is - how did they get to that point of acceptance? That moment of honesty seems hidden, and I wish it would be uncovered.

Like anything else along this journey, I’ve learned that the process is highly personal. Sure, biology has made it so that we generally follow a consistent path through pregnancy, but it also makes room for the variance of human experience. In spite of the accompanying guilt about my vanity, I feel a small sense of relief in finally being honest with myself and my worries. Bridges are meant to be crossed, and that’s what I’ll do when I reach this one - but until then, more immediate life-changing moments are on the way. There will be time to forge my path back to body confidence and love, but as of right now? I’m ready to love this new little person who will be forging their own path very soon, and I can’t wait to embrace the beauty in that.

Bridget "Bee" Quammie is a Toronto-based healthcare professional, writer, social media consultant, and founder of 83toinfinity.com. Recognized by Black Enterprise nd the 2014 Black Canadians Awards for her digital work, Bee aims to live '83 To Infinity's motto: "It's never too late to learn something new, do something new, or be someone new." Follow her on Twitter at @BeeSince83.

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