When I met the Captain I was a smoking, bulimic 17 year old working in an ice cream shop. I had grown up being taunted about my size, height, skin tone and texture, nose… you name it. My nicknames were ‘chicken skin’ and ‘amazon.’ Being taller than most boys did nothing to make this girl feel feminine, and by the time they were finally taller than me, they had seen me through all the extra awkward stages and had written me off. And to a developing girl, that was devastating.
Before getting pregnant with Cabin Girl at 19, I had overcome my bulimia and quit smoking thanks to the Captain, but I gained weight. Once Cabin Girl was born, I was consistently hovering close to 200 pounds and I was ashamed and embarrassed of my post-baby body. Truth be told, I considered bulimia again. I researched miracle stretch mark creams. I mentally beat myself down a path of self destruction that destroyed the tiny bit of self esteem I had gained from the Captain’s steady strength and love. At a point of rejuvenation I walked into a Victoria’s Secret hoping to get a bit of feel-good back into my everyday life and was turned away, told that “larger women generally have bigger breasts, so we don’t carry anything in your size.” The wash of high school feelings of insignificance returned.
After a miscarriage, a year of totally messed up hormones, varying levels of depression, and a round of Clomid we conceived Cabin Boy. Still overweight, I let my body take the lead and gained even more weight, but I didn’t stress too much because that’s what my body was supposed to be doing.
I didn’t take bare belly shots during either of those pregnancies. I was ashamed of my expanding body. Disgusted by my purple stretch marks. Embarrassed that I had to wear XL/XXL sized maternity clothes. I was the exact opposite of what I had learned to be attractive.
Cabin Boy had serious allergy issues and failed to thrive on breast milk alone. I changed my diet to see if it would help him and subsequently lost a lot of weight. I felt good. I started running. I felt happy. I started to enjoy the curves that motherhood had bestowed upon me. Captain and I enjoyed rediscovering the connection we had without the fog of my insecurities getting in the way.
Once again, we miscarried. Then, we unexpectedly became pregnant with Mr. Monkey. We were anticipating more hormonal troubles and weren’t as careful with birth control as we could have been after deciding to wait a few months longer after the miscarriage. But, we were happy.
During my pregnancy with Mr. Monkey I made a new friend. A friend that *gasp* took pictures of her BARE BELLY. While pregnant! With stretchmarks! She was PROUD to show the world the amazing feat her body was going through.
She encouraged me to do the same, so I did… and I’ve never looked back.
|My very first belly picture (Mr. Monkey) and my most recent belly picture (The Kraken).|
This pregnancy, I am OWNING my belly. Because, you know what?
|39 weeks with Mr. Monkey
I’ll be wearing a bikini to the beach and spray grounds.
I talk to Cabin Girl about how awesome I think it is that my body keeps growing as The Kraken is growing. How proud I am of each and every purple mark that my body made while stretching to fit her, her big healthy brothers, and this baby we’re all eager to meet. We talk about how strong my body is, being able to make this 4th life while caring for the other three it carried.
Because I don’t want her to be ashamed of what becoming a woman means. I don’t want her to be devastated by the changes her potential future babies may bring to her body. I want her to glory in the beauty that is pregnancy, whether it’s hers or the women surrounding her.
Most especially, I don’t want her to think that I blame them for any issues I have with the body that motherhood has bestowed upon me.
And I am not alone. These moms are also choosing to bare their bellies. Every one of them has a perfect reason why!
|“Cherishing my belly because this is our 4th pregnancy, and we finally made it to the second trimester!”|
|“I chose to bare my belly because I was proud of what my body was doing. I was growing another human being in my belly! It still blows my mind a little. I’ve never felt more beautiful than when I was pregnant. I don’t ever want to forget my big, gorgeous, belly-button-stretched-flat belly, because it gave me the greatest gift in the world – it started my family.” Sara blogs over at You Are A Good Mama. Check her out!|
|“I wanted my baby to have the photos later in life… However, on a deeper level, the strength and capability of the female body is absolutely amazing. We are vessels of life, there is no job more important. So why not be proud and show it off?!”|
|“Being pregnant has been a very humbling experience for me. The body I used to have, and had all sorts of body image issues with, is gone, and it’s not coming back. Which is freeing, as all those issues are now a moot point. I have a new body now, and after I have this baby, I’ll have other issues to contend with. It’s like getting a fresh start, and I’m taking advantage of it by getting used to my new skin and celebrating it.” Chae is the burlesque performer “Kitty van Tassle” and blogs over at Bird Hearts Bear. See some awesome pictures of her pregnant burlesque show (bra and undies) here.|
|“I wanted to take this pic because I have always been ashamed of my body. This pregnancy I realized how beautiful the process of creating life truly is, and wanted to remember how gorgeous my body was, full with child.” Aubrey blogs, too!|
And last, but not least, my belly-love ‘coach’:
|“I am a belly bearing mama because I feel that the female form is beautiful in all shapes, sizes, and stages of life. To me, my baby belly is beautiful and perfect and something to savor.” Cynthia is a doula in Eastern Washington, providing pre and post-natal, breastfeeding, and birth support for new and expecting mothers.|
Teaching our kids to love themselves starts with loving ourselves. What better time to accomplish both than during the beautiful miracle that is pregnancy?