I think it’s one of life’s great ironies that the two periods in my adulthood when I have treated my body as a temple have been when my stomach has absolutely no chance of getting any flatter.
With this pregnancy, just as when I was pregnant with Frog, I’ve found myself eating more healthily, getting more exercise and making sure I go to bed at a reasonable hour. It seems I need the excuse of growing another human to take proper care of myself.
I’ve never been a massive health freak. I find the gym boring and conversations about diets dull. At university I joined the Yoga club and did three sessions of Yoga a week (the relaxation bit at the end was my favourite), along with enduring a regular visit to the gym to try and balance out my excessive student alcohol consumption. But that’s as far as it went.
I love swimming and riding my bike and going for long walks, but not because of the effect these activities have on my body. I just think they’re fun things to do. And, to be honest, give me the option of a long bike ride or a trip to the pub and I’d probably choose the latter (if I wasn’t pregnant).
I suppose I’m lucky, in that my weight has never been an issue. I’m not saying I’m naturally toned with a flat stomach and arms Cameron Diaz would envy. But I’ve never been larger than a size 12 and my weight has always stayed safely in that BMI chart thingy. Of course there are times of the year when I’ve been more wobbly than others (oh how I love Christmas), but it’s not something I’ve ever really obsessed over. I suppose I’ve always had more important things on my mind.
So I’ve been surprised at how I’ve felt about my changing body shape with this pregnancy.
From eight weeks my favourite pair of jeans felt so snug I had to undo them when I sat down. Tights cut me in half and create a weird two-stomach look unless I pull them right up to my armpits Simon Cowell style, or roll them under my ever-growing belly. But rather than embrace the new curves I’ve felt, well, a bit crap.
I remember this in-between bump stage with Frog well. I spent much of my time sucking my stomach in to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes or puffing it out to fill out my expanding maternity wardrobe. I was terrified people would just think I had put on a load of weight, without realising I was pregnant. Which is weird, because like I said before, weight wasn’t something I’d obsessed over pre-pregnancy.
And now it’s happening all over again.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good round bump. I enjoyed being pregnant with Frog and was blessed with a non-eventful pregnancy. From around five months I stopped having to suck in or puff out my belly and felt all glowy, revelling in the curves.
People tell me you can show earlier with your second child, because your muscles are already somewhat stretched. Or maybe they’re just saying that to make me feel better. Either way, I’m still waiting to hit that magic I Fit My Maternity Clothes Perfectly and Look Obviously Pregnant stage. I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin at the moment and it’s a bit of a strange feeling.
I realise this may all sound terribly shallow. After all, the most important thing is that my baby is growing healthily. How I look while it gets bigger is of no consequence really. But there is something to be said in feeling comfy and confident – or at least NOT feeling like you want to hide in your house until you pass the in-between bump stage.
I’ll be honest and say this isn’t something I’d usually write about. Or talk about really. If you’ve made it this far then thank you for reading and please don’t think I’m not a) aware of how lucky I am to be pregnant with a planned baby and b) obsessed with the way I look.
And if you have any tips for ways I can stop feeling like a bloated whale until my baby bump is “proper” and start liking my body again then please do share.