I never realized just how clueless I was about how the body changes during pregnancy.

About two and a half months ago I was sitting in a quarterly meeting in DC, nauseous from the onset of first trimester nausea and green with envy over the two visibly pregnant women in the room. They were laughing, hugging, and comparing bumps while I sipped my ginger ale and kept quiet about my early pregnancy. I thought to myself, the next time I’m at this meeting, I’ll have my very own bump to show off! Fast forward to today. It’s two days before our next quarterly meeting, and I still don’t have much of anything to show for this pregnancy.

The truth is, I kind of like that. I kind of like that I’m in most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and that for the most part, my stomach still looks relatively flat. When I asked my midwife about my lack of bump-age, she said it was in part because my stomach muscles were so strong. Did I ever start to feel smug over that. My tight core was keeping that baby bump under wraps.

As the weeks went on, more and more people were in disbelief when I told them how many weeks along I was in my pregnant. “But you’re so small!” they’d gasp. “You don’t even look pregnant!” they’d squeal. And I got even smugger over something so petty. I’m sure it has to do with being a tall person with an athletic build. I’ve never been called small in my life. I was always the tallest kid in my class, and now at 5’9″ I still tower over plenty of people. It doesn’t bother me much or even occur to me most of the time, but when I suddenly transformed into a “small” pregnant woman, I took the bait. I fell for it.

In reality, I am bigger than I was pre-pregnancy, and now I don’t know how to feel about it. In the early weeks, I was anxious to find a new curve to my belly, but now I want it all to stay in. Picking out outfits is a struggle between finding what fits, what’s comfortable, and what doesn’t make me look bigger than I am. I’m worried that I’m not ready to embrace the inevitable bump that’s due to arrive any week now.

This ambivalence goes beyond the bump/no-bump aspect of this pregnancy. Some days I honestly don’t know what to think of what I’ve gotten myself into. Mostly it’s the gaze of others that has me worked up. It’s the weird experience of walking into a room and all eyes zeroing in on my belly. It’s sitting in an uncomfortable space where people feel like they can comment on my body without thinking about the person who occupies it. I’m afraid I’ve let it get to me.

I do believe a tipping point is coming–when I feel the first flutter, when we have our first ultrasound, when we paint the nursery. I know a moment is coming when it will click and I will be ready to embrace this. But for now, I just sit in this uncomfortable liminal space and wait.

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