Monday, September 20, 2010

Girth and the Gravity of Growth

I've been wearing tight shirts to get attention lately.

Bradly and I are growing in all sorts of interesting ways, and people are starting to take notice. I don't mind people touching my stomach. Normally, I think I would. I'm kinda a side-hug, no-touching type gal. But I accept this as par for the course. It seems pretty normal that someone would want to touch a growing, if hidden, baby. I think the whole process is pretty fascinating and miraculous and mysterious. Of course, people are curious and instinctively reach out to it. That's okay by me.

However, I have to confess that I sometimes get a sort of uncomfortable, self-conscious feeling about the looking, the monitoring, the intense noticing of my body. There are all sorts of paradoxical, contradictory things happening inside this introvert. I like the attention, and I really like to talk about all things Bradly-related, but it's odd to be the subject of so many gazes. And I get told that I'm not so big for 4.5 months, which in some ways is good, I guess. But in some ways makes me feel like my belly is a little anticlimactic or unimpressive. Some days I want a roaring monster Mother Earth belly that everyone will recognize and respect and genuflect toward. And some days I just feel fat and saggy and past my youthful prime.

We went out to a bar on Saturday night for a friend's birthday, and getting dressed to be in that setting and getting dressed as a pregnant lady didn't mesh easily for me (Where's my black lace muumuu?)... Quite honestly and vainly, I don't want people to think this belly is just a chubby pot belly, which obviously is not the end of the world, and why do I even care what these strangers see? Aren't I a mother now? Mothers (can look sexy but) don't need to look sexy... They are secure in their identity.

But I didn't feel that way. I kept putting my hand on my belly while we were there to indicate that this is a baby--you better recognize. In the future, if you see me putting my hands on my belly, that's what I'm doing. I'm grappling with my self image, announcing with authority that I used to look better than this, no, really, I did.

While we were at the bar, there was a cute, cute girl there. She had on a very chic, very casual, backless orange shirt, and she seemed to be one of those people who are just comfortable in their own skin, just having fun. And though I know there's absolutely no need for or benefit in comparison, I compared my own dumpy status to hers. And I was afraid. I was afraid of never being that girl again--not that I ever was--but I was afraid of being a mom and wearing flowery capri pants and boxy white t-shirts for forever and never getting dressed up to go out for drinks again. I was afraid of, not just the change in my body, but the change in my life, too.

We don't even go out to bars anymore, so why am I envious of this girl? I don't know. I'm ready for this new life with Bradly and excited to think about all the things we'll be doing with her. I get teary thinking about the little diapers and getting a swing set and dance lessons and shopping for a prom dress and shopping for a wedding dress and every little thing in between. And I love that big picture so much. But that girl at the bar on Saturday seemed to represent something else entirely that was passing away. And I worried that I might miss it.


Jennifer said...

This is really honest and relatable. I wish I had something helpful to contribute but it seems inevitable that gaining this new wonderful means letting go the other myriad (pleasant) ideas of what life could look like. In fact, sometimes I think making decisions in general is so difficult not because it's hard to settle on what I want, but because I hate the implication of saying NO to all the other potentials. And no matter what I've gained, those other potentials register as a loss. Still, I guess we have to focus on the net gain, right?

Jennifer said...

Blah, blah, blah...Mostly you should just know that you are SO CUTE with your tiny tummy!

The Kelley's said...

That girl was sickly skinny and wearing a moustache! I bet if she knew the exciting things you're experiencing in your life she'd be supremely jealous. At least we can hope so! :) I'm so there with you, though.