Friday, 25 August 2017

Self Love

I don't think I'm alone when I say that I've battled with body confidence/self esteem issues for most of my life. One of my earliest memories of these struggles was as far back as primary school, when I specifically remember running up and down the stairs trying to 'loose weight' before a swimming party which I was going to later that day. A part of me is able to see the comical side to it all these years later, the fact that I thought I could shed a little puppy fat in the space of an hour..  (In my defense I was just a tad naive and once went to bed literally praying that in the morning I would wake as Pocahontas- it's safe to say I woke up just a little disappointed)

But in all seriousness, as a 26 year old mother to a beautiful little girl, there is a part of me that feels massively sad remembering it. I'm a self confessed sensitive soul at the best of times, but it truly kills me to think of my Daughter ever thinking about herself so negatively.

Another memory I have is from a p.e lesson years later in Secondary school. The teacher had us girls all sat together and asked us to raise our hands if we were 100% perfectly content with our bodies and appearance. I vividly remember two girls raising their hands. I could quite  confidently bet money on it that most of the girls who were in attendance that day won't even remember the conversation. I on the other hand, was so taken aback by it and so, so incredibly envious and to be really honest, quite disbelieving that there were actually people out there confident in themselves that I've never been able to forget it.

Both of those girls have went on to have multiple children each and I sometimes wonder if they still feel this way about their bodies. 
I genuinely hope so.

Back to the present day, I am currently 26 weeks pregnant with my second baby and I feel i've been quite body confident throughout the first few months. This time around I knew I know whats ahead,  nothing has came as a surprise. The boobs and strong white nails have grown (the perks) but the stretchmarks from the first time have resurfaced and so have the wispy baby hairs that even the Liz Earle hair oil just won't tame. But you win some and lose some, and having been there and done that I know that the end result is worth all these trivial hang-ups.

Maybe a little tmi, but I didn't expect to fall pregnant so quickly. In my head I wanted to be as healthy and my body as fit and ready for pregnancy as humanly possible. But after loosing almost a stone after a bout of the notorious norovirus, I soon made up for the weight loss and gained over a stone and a half with the stress of buying and moving house with a toddler. Well, that's my story and i'm sticking to it.......

I was a little bit pissed off to be honest starting my pregnancy with as bit of excess weight. I was able to avoid maternity clothes the first time around, the mighty hair bobble trick served me well and I was scared that my body would struggle to get back to any kind of normality after two.
 But I was hit full whack with a reality check when my doctor referred me to the early pregnancy clinic at 7 weeks + 4 after several nights of cramping and shooting pain.

It was a bank holiday and so I had to wait three agonizing days until I could be seen. I had never experienced this with my first pregnancy and had utterly convinced myself that we had lost, or were loosing the baby. So much so, I couldn't even bare to look up at the screen until the wonderful lady doing the scan said 'Don't you want to see? look at that nice steady heartbeat'

Ever since that scare I have never taken for granted how extremely hashtag 'blessed' I am. How fortunate I am to be able to conceive and carry a baby. Not just one, but two healthy pregnancies.
My heart breaks for the women that struggle, the one's that show up to their scan to hear devastating news, the one's that never to experience the things we like to moan about. The one's that have to say goodbye, before they even get a chance to say hello.
It's only when you look up the facts and figures you see how all too common it is. And so i'm adamant to embrace the changes, both the perks and the flaws of pregnancy. To keep in mind exactly how I felt waiting to find out if my pregnancy was 'viable' when I complain of aching hips, lack of sleep or the battery acid rushing up my throat every time my head hits a pillow. I am fortunate to experience these symptoms that tell me my baby is continuously growing. 

This week is the first in 26 that i've hit a low point. Lately i've had so many comments about my 'bump'/ body/ appearance that I came home from work the other night, shut the door and burst into tears. Proper Kim K ugly crying tears if we're being specific. You know one of those crying fits were you can't quite get the words out? that was me. Luckily Stuart was there arms wide open, and was quick to make me a  cup of tea. A double Jack Daniel's,  no ice would have went down a treat- but, pregnant, and all that.

 'Wow, you're massive, and so long still to go!' 'You're definitely a lot broader this time around' 'You're bigger but it's still a lovely bump' 'Are you sure there's not another in there?'  Cue lots of eye rolling and polite laughing. I've never been blessed with quick wit and so a sarky comeback is out of the question.

The icing on the cake was when I walked past two council workers who looked at each other and I seen one mouth 'Holy Shit' when I walked past. Hurt turned to anger instantly , and it's had me thinking ever since.

I know this comes as part and parcel of being pregnant. I'm probably guilty of it myself. In fact I know i'm guilty of it. It's hard not to be face to face with a pregnant woman and not make a comment. Maybe it's because I am carrying more weight this time i'm definitely feeling more sensitive to comments. Last time I was 'all bump' and I was quite proud of it. I know deep down people don't mean anything vicious by it, in fact  i'd say the majority of the time they aren't even aware of how it can make a woman feel and would feel mortified if I told them that I had to literally force myself out of the house the other day to take my Daughter to the leisure center because I was so unhappy with how I felt in my jeans. My two sizes bigger than usual, maternity jeans. No hair bobble trick can sort this one out. I'd sooner go to a supermarket in the next town than have to bump into people I know and hear the same comments on repeat. I'm so proud of my body that i'm so angry at myself for letting other people make me feel self conscious about my body.

I tried explaining to Stuart that it's like
having a noticeable wart on the end of your nose, and everyone you come into contact with commenting on it. It becomes draining. Some days you're more sensitive to comments than others.  Some days you have all the confidence in the world, others you want to shut yourself away.

I am so proud of my body, and the bump i'm growing. Don't mistake this for me moaning, because I am so flippin' grateful for this experience. But I am also sick of feeling like public property, and working in a retail environment, hearing these comments are all too familiar.  Instead of basing them on my appearance, it would be refreshing to hear more people ask how my pregnancy is going, how i'm feeling instead of telling me how big I'm getting.
Would we ever go up to a stranger in the street and comment on their size?  Or run into an old friend from school 'I haven't seen you in years! has your nose always been that big?!'  'Your acne isn't as bad as it was in school' Why does it suddenly seem so acceptable when they are pregnant? 
The mind boggles.

I'm sporting a big bump, but i'm growing one healthy baby. I'm trying to limit the unnecessary evening snacks, not because I medically have to, but because my partner's family have a history of birthing 10lber babies and that kinda puts the fear of God into me. But sometimes those salted caramel cookies are just too damn tempting.

I've done enough ranting, crying and moping about the house in over-sized tshirts  these last few days to last me a lifetime. No more hiding away and having a pity party over meaningless throwaway comments. 
I'm down to double digits now.  My app says it's less than 94 days until we meet our baby, and as the kicks are getting stronger, it's all becoming very, very real. 
 I'm so excited to see what he/she looks like, I can't wait to see Eva's reaction to her new sibling, intrigued as to what he/she will look like, scared at the level of exhaustion i'm going to experience with two. But I can tell you that no amount of stretchmarks or numbers on the scale are going to change how ecstatic I am about meeting this little one. The one I feared I would never have the chance to. And if anything that makes me want to love my body that little bit more.


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