Today I am 30 weeks pregnant and that is absolutely crazy. Going down a different route with this week's pregnancy post, this post isn't going to be about my latest adorable baby buys or my hopes and dreams for a happy future ahead. Today I want to talk about some of the harder aspects of pregnancy, of the things I've struggled with, thoughts I've battled with and assumptions I've faced. Today I want to talk about being plus size and pregnant.
My weight and size have been topics I have always openly discussed both here on Tattooed Tealady as well as social media. I am a firm believer in your body is your body and the only person who has the right to pass judgement and give approval, is yourself. I absolutely loathe seeing the hatred and bile which is thrown towards the plus size community online, plus size men and women in real life and although less shouted about and campaigned against, that same attitude shown at the opposite end of the scale to those who are slimmer than most. Something I will never be able to wrap my head around is the way so many people feel they are entitled to make comments on another person's body and life. The only person you have the right to comment on, to judge, is yourself.
Before I became pregnant I had spent many, many years doing diets. Weight Watchers was a particular favourite of mine, which I either followed as a member and with going to classes, or taking what I had learnt from the plan and 'going it alone'. It worked, for me it really did work - although surprisingly it worked far more effectively when I wasn't a member and simply followed the plan at home with the tools I'd learnt, than when I attended group meetings. I know, it's ironic that someone who wants people to love themselves and who embraces body positivity (although that's a phrase I've come to hate over recent months, but more about that in another post...), should spend so much of their life attempting to lose weight. But the truth of the matter is no matter how much I told other people to accept themselves for who they are, that's something I could never do for myself. I don't think that's false or hypocritical, as I know some will view it, because I genuinely do want people to be happy within themselves, but it's not always easy to take your own advice, especially when you have emotional baggage relating to your weight, which I had plenty of!
For me, it's never been a case of not being happy with my body. If I'm honest 99% of me doesn't give a damn how big or small I am, how many lumps and bumps I have, whether I have one chin or three. But that other 1%? The niggling voice of society, telling me the body I have isn't OK. That's the voice that makes me want to change my body, the voice which has given me 27 years of self-concious hatred, the voice I could never shut up.
When I found out I was pregnant, although it was amazing news and something both my partner and I desperately wanted, I instantly began to worry about my body. I'd managed to lose almost 4 stone before getting pregnant, I was, I suppose you could say, finally happy with the way my body was looking. I felt more confident, more happy within myself. I wasn't at my 'goal' weight, but I was a lot closer than I had ever been. Now my body was going to drastically change, and I was OK with that, but that 1% niggling voice in the back of my head suddenly got bigger.
Instantly I felt defensive and a wall went up that I'd managed to knock down when I finally started to feel more comfortable with my body, shape and size. Worries filled my head; would I be treated differently because I was plus size? Would the midwives make me feel unworthy of being pregnant, because I was too fat? Would it make my pregnancy more difficult, or even dangerous for my baby? Would it mean my baby would end up born big, because I am big? Mostly, what worried me and stuck in my head day in and day out, was what other people would think to me. Would people think I looked pregnant, or just assume I'd put on the weight I'd lost? Would I even look pregnant?! I was convinced I'd be met with disapproval from medical staff and told off at every appointment, treated horribly because of my weight. I was absolutely dreading my first midwife appointment at 8 weeks.
Thankfully, the experience I've had so far has been the opposite of my worries. Both my midwife and hospital appointments have been fine, with no mention of my weight or size or any inclination that they may be an issue. At my first appointment with my midwife it was me who brought my weight and size up, rather defensively might I add, expecting her to start a lecture, when in fact she had no worries at all. I appreciate that if I was bigger than I am (or was when I became pregnant), then I would receive extra care and consultant based care, but I'm at the bottom scale of things so I don't fall into that category. Of course I have been told to watch what I eat more carefully, not take being pregnant for granted by eating for two - which is completely unnecessary anyway as the most you need as extra intake is equivalent to two slices of toast in your third trimester -, as well as voluntarily opting to have a Gestational Diabetes test, which thankfully came back negative.
That said, I have struggled with my body changing. Until my bump became higher, much firmer/hard to the touch and rounder in shape, I really struggled with 'feeling' pregnant. I just felt like a whale and I don't think I looked pregnant at all. I'm not naive, I know for the first half of my pregnancy I just looked fat and boy did I envy those with slimmer frames whose bumps are obvious from the moment they start to show. I felt uncomfortable and self-concious, even around family and friends let alone around strangers as I was out and about, wondering what they must think of my shape and size. I felt embarrassed for my partner, knowing that if I was smaller in size and showing a nice little bump instead of my already pretty chubby tummy looking fatter, then people would know I was carrying his baby and not just extra weight around my middle.
My biggest worry? That when our baby is born, if they are a big baby, people will look at me to blame. That if our baby isn't small and happens to be a bit chubbier than most babies, that it'll be because I'm fat. That people will look at our baby and think it is my fault they're big. It's why at every appointment where I've been measured I've frantically asked the midwife, "Is that OK? Is that the right measurement they should be measuring at for this stage?".
It's difficult when a stranger in a shop or in the hospital waiting room asks me excitedly how long I have left, to then see the look of surprise and awkwardness when I tell them "Oh quite a while yet, I'm due in January".
I look at girls whose bodies are smaller than mine and lust after their shape, the way their bumps make them look even more beautiful than they did before, they way pregnancy makes them look so incredible. But then, if I had their shape, their bodies, their bumps, it wouldn't be me, it wouldn't be the same pregnancy I've had so far, it wouldn't be my body carrying my baby. This journey wouldn't be mine, and I have to admit, I've really enjoyed the journey so far.
Four weeks ago at exactly 26 weeks pregnant, I took this Instagram picture, the very first picture I had taken of myself and my bump since getting pregnant. At 26 weeks I finally felt confident enough to take a picture of my bump, despite knowing I looked bigger than most at 26 weeks, and not really caring if I'm honest. I was proud of my 26 week bump, and my 29 week bump that I also shared on Instagram, and as each day passes and my bump steadily gets bigger, I'm proud of it then, too.
Being pregnant has made me look at my body in a way I have never seen it before. It's no longer a body that is there for other people to scrutinise, but a body that is creating life and amazes me every single day. It's a body which is growing and nurturing a baby, which is going to bring that baby into this world to live a life of their own and keep nurturing it once they are here, too. It is a body which is doing things I always knew it was capable of, but never really thought much about, and now it's doing these things, well, let's just say it's pretty difficult to despise something which is doing something so darn amazing.
I thought being plus size and pregnant would be difficult, a battle with professionals, an anxious and guilt-ridden time. Yet I've gone from feeling self-conscious to pretty darn confident. I've learnt to love my body in a way I never thought possible, and that is one of the biggest gifts being pregnant and this baby could have given to me.
Last Week: Choosing Our Travel System | Cosatto Giggle 2
Next Week: 3 Things I'll Miss When I Become a Mother