I recently posted a letterboard picture of my 32 week baby bump, not even considering in my head that someone, somewhere would find something negative to say about it. I mean, let’s be real, it’s a picture of my kids dressed like sharks…what could possibly be wrong with that? But as soon as I fell asleep the night that I posted it, my messages started blowing up with women accusing me of having an eating disorder, promoting an “unachievable” pregnancy body, and accusing me of lying about how far along I am. Even after it got reposted on several other maternity and parenting pages, the comments of “Umm that girl is definitely not 32 weeks” filled the comment sections. I woke up humiliated, and I broke down and cried like the super pregnant lady I am. An innocent picture that I shared on my personal social media account was used to body shame me.
I have struggled with hyperemesis during all four of my pregnancies. With my son, I lost over 40 pounds during the first two trimesters alone from compulsively vomiting all day; I could not even hold down water. With my daughters, I lost close to 30 pounds both times, and I spent most of my pregnancies in a dark room, unable to move without dry heaving. And this pregnancy, at 32 weeks, I still have days where I can’t eat anything without becoming violently ill afterwards. Naturally, this has taken a little bit of a toll on my body, and as a result, I am small-framed.
But don’t let that fool you. My doctor measures me at every appointment, and my uterus measures completely normal. More importantly, my BABY measures completely normal. There is no “right size” to look when you are pregnant. Women’s bodies are all different, and that’s one of the most beautiful things in itself.
If I looked larger than expected at 32 weeks, would people have commented on that? Would the comment sections have been filled with “THAT GIRL IS MASSIVE”? Maybe. Because, for whatever reason, people love to put down other people if they look differently, think differently, or parent differently than they do. And when you’re hiding behind your phone screen, speaking to complete strangers in the middle of the night, this issue is only magnified. It has to stop, y’all–is this what we want to teach our children?
My body is beautiful. My body created FOUR humans. My body has inflated and deflated and stretched and reshaped itself so many times in recent years. My stomach is a soft, untoned reminder of the sacrifices I made to carry my children for nine months each. My boobs are stretch-marked pancakes that can fit into pre-teen training bras at this point, which reminds me every single morning of the struggles I endured to breastfeed each of my babies for as long as I possibly could. The scar tissue up and down my thighs where I ripped so violently while birthing my son in a brutal forceps delivery is a reminder that I am a strong woman, capable of just about anything.
My body is perfect. And so is yours. Because every body is beautiful. Let’s learn to love them all and respect each other, whether or not we’re talking directly to someone’s face or behind the screens where people share their lives with us. Most importantly, just be kind–it’s the most beautiful thing to be.