I thought I knew my body pretty well by the time I started having babies. I knew what to predict each month when it came to my menstrual cycle, and how my sleep was affected by work stress. But I didn’t appreciate my body. I never looked down at myself and thought, “Damn, body, you work great! Keep on killin' it, madam!” I was mostly just annoyed that it didn’t conform to the sizing of certain jean brands. I hated my thighs, my upper arms, my cellulite. The list of what didn’t work for me was long. I had spent decades lambasting my body instead of giving it props for not getting sick very often. I was convinced I’d be happier if I were thinner, smoother, or more proportionate.
Getting pregnant caused a seismic shift in my body image. It didn’t happen right away — you’re talking about a lifetime of viewing my body one way, and that didn’t get undone overnight — but by my fifth month of pregnancy, when my belly became more pronounced and I saw myself as actually pregnant, and not just puffy, I was no longer interested in hating myself so much. I was beginning to be amazed by what was happening now that my body was now conforming to a whole new set of rules in order to grow a healthy baby. I had to let it do its thing, and in doing so, I stopped being annoyed by what my body “failed” to be — I was too preoccupied with being amazed by what it could do.
After living with this body that morphed for nine months before successfully birthing a perfect child, I walked away a new respect for it, and a lot of lessons.