Thursday, 25 October 2012

I Can't Believe I Heart My Pregnant Body (We Heart It - I Heart My Body 2012)

A lot can change in 12 months. For last years I Heart My Body campaign, I was physically fit and learning to embrace my appearance for what it truly was - healthy, strong, beautiful. I wasn't sure if I would participate again this year, I saw some of the negative responses from people and I was saddened that some misunderstood the purpose of the campaign. It was a promotion and celebration of body love, yes, but it was also a chance to show each other what REAL women look like. 

Something that we just don't get the opportunity to see very often.

I decided to remove the post earlier this year because those few opinions were enough to make me feel vulnerable about having pictures of myself in my underwear 'out there'. 

I also felt that I had got what I needed out of it. I had shown real images of me after becoming a mother and what that looked like. I had made some small dent in the countless number of photoshopped and surgically enhanced images we have come to accept as normal and I had felt liberated by publishing the images when I ordinarily baulk  at the idea of wearing a bikini at the beach in front of my closest friends. Now, I regret taking the post down because it was an important reminder to me that what your mind perceives is not always an accurate reflection and most importantly, it's such a small part of who I am.

This year, I have a different focus. 

This year, I love my body for what it is capable of. 

I admit that I struggle with the changes to my body during pregnancy. The heaviness, the constant battle to find clothes that fit and flatter, the limitations my out of proportion body suddenly has, the obsessive stretch mark watch, it all gets me down. Taking part in the campaign this year is giving me the chance to look past this and embrace the beauty of what my body is doing - growing life. It has made me appreciate that I can be in this situation at all when so many aren't blessed with that opportunity.

Plus having a decent rack for a change is definitely a positive, I went from a small C cup to hefty DD in a matter of weeks. Welcome back knockers!

This pregnancy has been harder on my body in many ways. I would say without a doubt that I have "felt" all 32 weeks of it this time around, largely because I try to live in denial that being pregnant requires me to make any kind of adjustment to how I carry on my normal life (within healthy behaviours of course). 

But as much as I complain about the heart burn, sore back and lack of waistline, I am comforted by my body's ability to continue to grow a healthy life. 

Beyond the physical, and despite my minor (and temporary) discomfort, my body is doing everything right to ensure that our baby is protected and nourished. Physically, my body handles pregnancy pretty well, I don't suffer from blood pressure issues, my ankles and face have not become swollen, and am not at risk of gestational diabetes. Providing there are no unexpected complications over the coming weeks, my body will also be able to birth this life with minimal fuss or intervention and recover quickly from the whole ordeal, just as it did when I had Skye. 

If this turns out to not be the case, I will still be grateful for what my body has allowed me to handle so far and marvel at the wonder of holding this new life in my arms, a life that my body carried. 

I am sure in years to come when I look back at these photo's that rather than fixate on the weight gained or the shape of my thighs, I will remember fondly how I sat in the stillness late at night massaging cream into my belly and wondering about the little person I have yet to meet. I will smile wistfully at the special, secret knowledge only I have of the way our baby moves and wriggles. I will recall how I would imagine all the things we have yet to experience together as mother and child, the endless possibilities of a future waiting to be lived. 

And I will thank my body for allowing me that amazing gift.

A woman's body is a beautiful thing, it should be celebrated for its many shapes and sizes. But in order for us to do that, we need to see what real women over the age of 18 and without the hoax of lighting, makeup and photo editing software actually look like, which is why I am proud to take part in the We Heart Life - I Heart My Body 2012 campaign. 

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