“I take my shoes off,” I told the nurse apologetically. I flung off my sneakers before stepping on the scale, knowing I was taking up her time in order to save myself from the weight of my Nikes. I was 34 weeks pregnant, or maybe 35, and the weigh-ins were all running together as I found myself at the doctor’s office every week during the final months. It was my first pregnancy. I felt aware from the very beginning that the experience would be difficult for me.
I’ve struggled with my body image for long time. It all started when I went from being a full-time gymnast to being a full-time college student. Suddenly my body was consuming late-night pizzas and cafeteria buffet lines without the balance of daily workouts. I quickly noticed my increasing curves and tighter-fitting pants. The complicated relationship I had with my body intensified swiftly and has stayed with me far beyond my college years.
When I became pregnant, I expected the struggle with my body image to get worse as I lost a great deal of control over how I looked. The very thing I spent years trying to avoid—getting bigger—was now an inevitable reality (a goal, even!). I begged God for grace. I had countless conversations with trusted friends about my ongoing struggles and fears about the pregnancy’s impact on my body. I didn’t look at the number on the doctor’s scale and I took off my shoes every time.
It was during my third trimester, in a conversation with a friend, when I said it. I didn’t realize I felt this way until I heard the words in my own voice:
“I’ve never felt better in my own body as I do now.”
I’d never spoken so positively about my body, and certainly never imagined I would do so while carrying an entire human being inside of me. When I said it, however, I knew I meant it deeply. I loved being pregnant and I was in awe of what my body was doing to grow and sustain this tiny baby within me.
My awe at the human body swelled when I delivered my sweet girl. It was a long and difficult labor, but I shook with tears of joy and relief as I held her for the first time and heard my doula say, “You did it! You did it! She’s here!” I did it. She is here — and I’m no longer pregnant.
I love my precious girl and honestly believe I could simply stare at her face for hours on end, but I miss having her on the inside. I miss being pregnant. I miss hearing myself speak about the love I had for my body because now, even after being a part of the miracle of my daughter coming to life, I’m back to struggling with my physical appearance.
I wondered why I saw my body as a source of beauty and strength when it was sustaining a baby within me, yet I lacked the same awe for the ways my body continuously sustains me. What my body did to bring my daughter into the world was incredible, but what it does every day to bring me life, movement, sustenance, and joy is just as amazing.
I am still shocked at how kindly I spoke about my pregnant body. Now, as I recover from the delivery and continue to witness my body sustain the life of my daughter, I hope to keep surprising myself with words of gratitude that I speak about my body. I beg God for grace. I talk about my struggles and fears. And I still take my shoes off at every weigh-in, ignoring the number on the scale, which will never include the weight of my Nikes.
The curves of my body may not be going anywhere, but neither are the miracles my body can perform.
I want to be someone who talks about the miracles.
Mallory Redmond embraces anomalies–she is an adventure-loving homebody who keeps a clean house yet always makes a mess whenever eating or brushing her teeth. She loves dry humor, clean sheets, and gathering around the table with friends. Mallory and her husband, Darren, live in Ohio with their beagle, Roger, and [soon!] their first child. You can follow her writing here, where her stories are told with the hope of further uncovering the places of connection in our humanity.