As I stare at my reflection in the mirror, I'm immediately startled by the fullness of my face. When did this happen? It seems as if just overnight, it's transformed into an image that is unlike my own. It is dotted with small specks of acne, which I haven't seen since my teen years; and bags have formed under my once youthful eyes, a result of lost sleep due to my discomfort. I'll make a brave attempt to clumsily cover the imperfections with makeup–to try to look like myself.
As I take a step back from the mirror, I'm able to see the entire picture of my body, but my eyes are drawn directly to the centerpiece, which is my ever-growing belly. My shirt is pulled taut across it, and I know that the skin underneath is as well, with a web of little white stretch lines beginning their formation as time wears on.
I sigh heavily at the sight. I feel tired. I feel achy. I feel big. I don't feel like myself. I don't feel beautiful.
Walking away from the mirror, I'm struck with a thought. My body looks different, as does my face. It’s difficult to accept sometimes, but this is actually very beautiful. Pregnancy is beautiful.
What’s happening to my body is beyond just myself. Inside that round belly, the one that is a great contributor to my sleepless nights, is a child, a promise of a new life. All of these changes in my body, though somewhat difficult for me to accept right now, are working toward something that is so much greater than just my appearance: my baby.
What could be more beautiful than spending nine months of your life growing another human being? A tiny child whose kicks the mother will feel inside her belly, bringing a beautiful smile to her face. A growing baby whose small movements, visible on an ultrasound, will warm the hearts of those present to see it. A newborn whose first cries will bring tears of relief and joy to its mother’s eyes. And eventually, this child will grow to become a human being whom we, as parents, hope will contribute good things to the world. One whom we will care for, we will teach, and for whom we will feel great pride.
And why am I looking past the physically beautiful aspects of this pregnancy? What about that twinkle in my eye—the one that shows my happiness at the thought of my child’s approaching arrival day? Why am I forgetting about how glad I am to have that round belly, since it is evidence that my baby is growing just as he needs to be. Have I forgotten about this “glow” so many people have said is emanating from my face? Or the new thickness of my hair? I may look somewhat different, but I am still myself—a beautiful version of myself.
Yes, it’s easy to focus on the uncomfortable side of pregnancy, the changes, and the difficulties that arise due to the changes in our bodies when we are expecting a child: the growing, the stretching, and the fluctuations in hormones. But take a step back from the mirror to put this into perspective: what your body is doing—what YOU are doing—is absolutely, incredibly, and without a doubt beautiful. You are beautiful.