How Pregnancy Made Me Appreciate My Body

In being pregnant, I've learned several things about myself. Perhaps one of the most important is a new appreciation for my body.

Here's the thing. The human body is nothing if not amazing. It can do things we don't even know it's capable of. My body in particular has bounced back from several surgeries and serious illnesses. And now it's growing a human being.

Before I became pregnant, I was like many other women: Most days of the week, I was on a diet or watching my weight in some capacity. Nearly every day I lamented how I looked in the mirror or what I looked like naked. I swatted my husband's hand when he lovingly grabbed me around my waist to pull me in for a kiss. I was never happy with how I looked, and it always, always had to do with my weight.
My wedding day. My lowest weight 
in years, in the 130s.

Which, in retrospect, doesn't make a lot of sense. I weighed 145 lbs pre-pregnancy, give or take a few pounds depending on the day. I was a little on the "heavy" side according to my height, but for the most part, I was healthy. So why wasn't I happy?

Then I got pregnant. I think I was like many women in that when I saw those two lines on my pregnancy test, I instinctively felt my stomach. At only 4 weeks along, I could already feel my "bump." Of course it was not a bump. Not even close. But when you're pregnant, you want that little pouch to be there. It's an outside glimpse into the amazing miracle that's happening inside you.

The day after I saw a positive sign. 

Of course, those first weeks, there wasn't really a bump to be seen. My boobs were growing and I was a bit thicker around the middle, to be sure. I gained weight slowly, continued to work out. I took my bump pictures every week. Looking back at these photos is amazing because I look at weeks 14, 16, even 18 and my belly is not very big. At 20 weeks, I remember chatting up a woman in Starbucks who told me she couldn't even tell I was pregnant!

10 weeks on the left, 15 weeks on the right.

I was anxious to "look" pregnant. And then, overnight, it seemed...I did. Not only did I look pregnant, I felt pregnant. My back began to ache. I started to swell on the regular. My boobs had another growth spurt. Suddenly and completely, I didn't feel cute or glowing anymore. I felt like a freaking cow. I hated the way I looked in photos. I hated that you could see my huge belly button under my stretching shirt. I hated that my face had begun to round out. And it was hard to balance that with what was happening on the inside: the kicks, turns and hiccups, all of which I love.
23 weeks
 Even as I type this, I know I'm being too hard on myself. After all, I'm not fat. I'm pregnant. But it's hard to remind yourself of that all the time. Especially because I've already gained 30 pounds in this pregnancy, 13 one month! And I still have a solid 12 weeks ago.

Soon after I really looked and felt pregnant, I started to look at old photos, taken as recently as this past winter. I found myself thinking, "Wow, you look good!" I even thought I looked, GASP, thin, in some photos. But how could that be, I wondered, when I was so surely fat all those years before I got pregnant? That was when I realized that I never appreciated my body until I got pregnant. Not only for what it "used" to be, but for what it can do and will do. So many women aren't able to bear children, and how, I wonder, would they feel if they knew I was "complaining" about what it was doing to my precious looks?

My breasts, which were large before, are now bigger because they're getting ready to be able to feed and nourish my son. My stomach, once flat and toned, is getting bigger by the day due to a growing uterus that is current home to a healthy baby boy. My hips, once relative to the size of my thighs, are getting wider to make labor and getting baby out more comfortable for all of us. My legs and back, though they ache, are getting stronger to support the weight of a growing baby.
Our little boy at just 12 weeks

There are so many moments in pregnancy when you don't feel beautiful. But there are also many that you do. And at the end of the day, this phase of life, like most, is temporary. One day, in the fairly near future, this babe growing inside me will make his way into the world, and I will have bigger things to worry about than my body. I'm sure I will be in a hurry to lose the baby weight. In no time, I'll complain that having a baby changed my body forever or that I can't seem to lose those last five pounds. But I hope I remember those stretch marks and extra pounds for what they are: Signs of my first born child living inside me, growing into a healthy little boy. And I hope, that the same way I look at my pre-pregnancy body with new appreciation, I can look back on my body while pregnant and after with much of the same.

Life's too short to be so obsessed with how we look. Especially when you're carrying a baby. No, my body is not the same as it was pre-pregnancy and time will tell what it looks like postpartum. But I wouldn't have it any other way.


  1. Wonderful post - and oh so true! That amazement will only increase as you go through the birth. At least it did for me. Truly amazing what your body can do!

  2. Beautiful Rach, absolutely beautiful!


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