Like most girls who turn into women, I spent the greater part of my life listening and learning how to hate my body. Not how to respect it. Not how to be comfortable in it. I learned to Hate it. I learned to look in the mirror and be ashamed. I learned how to silently compare myself to others and pick out the ways I was lacking. So much so that compliments my husband so kindly gave me fell on deaf ears.

Then, one day, I found myself pregnant, and oh, what the surprise that was… :-) I was amazed, every day, by the miracle of what God made my body capable of. I began to love the parts of myself I used to loathe. I began to see beauty where none had existed. And then, we lost our baby and all those hopes and dreams with him, and my confidence — what little of it I had managed to gather — suffered the biggest blow it ever had.

I am still recovering. I am still terribly vulnerable. I’m still self-conscious and prone to moments of insecurity and anxiety. But I had an epiphany this week, and that was how I am often more critical of myself than anyone else. I realized today it all started with that first moment I was taught to despise myself.

So today? Today I did something I NEVER thought I’d ever do.

I bought a bikini.

Yeah, I’m 8 months pregnant. And, I’m pretty positive my mother will roll in her grave when she gets there (she’s probably gasping in apoplexy right now at the scandalousness of this!).

But walking out of the store with that swimsuit in my possession? Driving home and thinking of the look on my husband’s face when I told him (and showed him!) what I did for myself? Putting it on in front of the mirror, pregnant belly and ALL, and feeling satisfied. Being able to smile at myself and see that I’m okay! I’m worth it! That my body — and indeed, the all rest of me — is deserving of my appreciation, naysayers be damned.

I felt so GOOD.

bikiniAnd this little bit of rebellion is even in my favorite colors. :-)

Set Up

I have sat down to write, and then trashed the post only to restore it a day later and try editing again, about ten times.

I still have no idea what, exactly, I want to say.

This last week my husband and I came to the conclusion we really should not wait any longer to set up the “nursery.” That, if we did nothing else, at least the furniture and big things should be moved and arranged.

The house was torn apart in about fifteen minutes. The cats hid in the bathroom, and I envied their ability to escape the chaos.

The upheaval — and what it represented — conspired to make me cranky. Not only did my cluttered, disaster-area of a living room turn into The Mess From Hell (which just makes me annoyed all by itself. Not that I’m some fantastic housekeeper or anything, but there’s clutter, and then there’s CLUTTER…), but seeing the familiar wood of the crib Michael never got to use tripped the tear faucet. Big time. I blubbered my way to work that morning, shamed by previous failure, and unable to shake this fear that the end is nigh. That the proverbial shoe is going to DROP at any minute, and we’ll be right back where we started when we returned home last June to a house-full of broken dreams and unfulfilled wishes. Or worse.

Please, God, don’t make me do it again. Don’t make my husband go through that again. Please, I beg — let us all live through this, healthy and whole…

Any time I’m not actively distracting myself with some other task, the fears rise up like a tidal wave and threaten to drown me. So spooked am I, that my version of “baby planning” this time is making contingency plans.

I realize I am far too wary for my own good.

The crib looked so very wrong, so I took a deep breath and waddled up to the storage room to get the blanket.

62425_491629704235719_1538027493_nI made that fleece blanket for Michael to have and use at cooler SCA events, a play on James’ registered heraldic device (Sable, a shark and a chief invected argent).

For some reason, the crib looks better now, with that draped across the edge.

Contingency plans are in the final stages.

I don’t know what else to do.

Three Months, or, Is This All I Get?

The third trimester has arrived, and with it, a cloud of melancholy.

Three months. Roughly 11 weeks.

While other mothers-to-be are busy drafting birth plans, laughing their way through baby showers, and rapidly finalizing plans for the time after, I am stopped cold in my tracks by the realization that this is it. That there very well could be nothing more after these few short months are up (and boy is time moving fast now…).

I feel… lost. Simultaneously, I relish and eagerly await every kick and squirm of this beautiful, precious child — and am annoyed at myself for making myself so vulnerable again. Too often it feels like I can’t breathe for the vicious, negative, doubting, fearful thoughts swirling in my head. Pregnancy the second time around has become a love/hate relationship, a trial to be endured. The fact makes me angry; I had so wanted it to be 100% joyful and beautiful and carefree like the first time, and I feel bitterly cheated.

People are overly eager in their camaraderie, however, their words hold absolutely nothing but spooky terror — how is a story of a relative who lost nine full-term children to various birth complications before she got to keep one supposed to comfort me? How is a story of a family who lost children, then the mother died during birth of the one who lived supposed to make me feel better and less worried? (How dare I even go through with this, knowing my husband could be left a widower with no way to care for a baby AND run the farm on his own?) How do tales of the risks, the complications endured, the discomforts and physical trauma experienced during their pregnancy and birth (not to mention all the other things that can go wrong with a child’s development) supposed to make me feel courageous and brave? How are these stories — which highlight all the loss and none of the success — supposed to make me feel like this is even worth it in the long run?

It doesn’t. I know these “helpful Heloises” mean well, but it just makes me feel like a certifiably crazy, flipping idiot in all my irresponsible glory for even wanting to try this again.

Eleven weeks.

Is it truly the beginning of the end as I fear?

I cannot stand this not-knowing.