Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Maternity Photos: What My Girls Have Taught Me About Self-Image

Maternity or bump photos have become a pretty common part of pregnancy these days, designed to help celebrate and commemorate pregnancy.  Many mamas enjoy an excuse to dress up and take pictures to celebrate the belly.  Others dread being in front of a camera, but decide to take a few anyway so they can look back and remember what it felt like to have that precious little person growing inside them.  Or just to show the kids what they did to our bodies and hold it over their heads forever (we do get to do that, right?).  Personally, I have absolutely loved having my friend, Shawna, take these pictures for me with both my pregnancies.  (Because who better to capture an intimate moment than your BFF?)


With Annalyn, I remember wanting to capture all the excitement and impatience we were feeling waiting for our first born.  I waited until I had a pretty huge 34 week belly and could barely get my rings on due to the swelling and water retention.  And exactly 3 weeks later, she was born.  I love looking back at those pictures and remembering the suspense, struggles, and wonder of those last 3 weeks.  Even the swollen fingers/ankles, chubby cheeks, and love handles can't undo the beauty in those pictures. 

I was very hesitant to do any bare belly pics with Annalyn, but Shawna talked me into taking just a few and thank goodness she did.  This one below ended up being my absolute favorite - in fact, it's been the lock screen on my phone ever since.  It's mostly a picture of our hands, but somehow it feels so intimate to me.

This time around, I again asked my dear friend Shawna to work her camera magic and capture this special time for us.  One great thing about a second pregnancy is that I better know what I'm going to want to remember.  In this case, I wanted to capture week 27 - the last of my beloved second trimester, in which I feel absolutely amazing.  I just love this time when I'm visibly pregnant, no longer hurling, but not yet super uncomfortable and swollen.  We even started with the bare belly pics this time, and after some internal debate, I decided to share them.


Pregnancy gives me an amazing confidence that I'd never have otherwise.  When I look at these pictures, I don't obsess about love handles, extra pounds, or even that little pooch between my bra and armpit (ladies, you know what I'm talking about).  I don't care that I'm sleep deprived and my hair's not perfect - in fact, I decided to pull it back because more days than not, that's how I wear it right now.   This whole session was photographed in our living room, about as casual and comfortable as you can imagine.

Another amazing aspect of Emelina's pregnancy is getting to share it with Annalyn.  She constantly points to by belly and says "baaaaby!"  Even a two year old can see that something incredible is happening.  At this age, she could care less about weight or body shape.  All she knows is that Mama has bumps where she didn't before and because of that, she gets a baby sister.  Talk about a sense of purpose!  I hope that years from now, she and Emma will see it the exact same way.  My body is not for me right now - it's for them. 
There's a reason we have curves, ladies, and here it is.  Don't be ashamed of them, embrace them.  I've spent years obsessing about every little bump or crease or bulge, yet now, at my bumpiest, I have somehow made peace with them.  Not because it's "ok to be fat when you're pregnant" or "you can eat whatever you want because no one judges you for gaining weight," but because I know I'm at a healthy weight and my body's doing exactly what it needs to right now.  And because my little lady (soon to be two little ladies) watch/hear my every move/thought.  Everything I say or do in regards to my body image will one day affect how they see themselves.  That's a pretty huge reason to embrace and take care of myself, pregnant or not.



Believe it or not, I haven't even showed you some of my favorites, yet.  Sure the pictures with Annalyn are precious, but I really treasure the ones with Michael this time around.  Maybe it's because we rarely think to take pictures of just the two of us anymore.  Usually it's one or the other of us with Annalyn, or the whole family.  So it's not surprise that I loved having these taken.  Pregnancy isn't just special for me, but for Michael, too.  He may not experience all the kicks and emotions first hand, but the love, support, and excitement is always there.  He makes it a point to not only tell me I'm "huge" but also that I'm pretty and he loves me and our girls.  He leaves me/Annalyn notes when he leaves for work and picks up the slack like crazy when I'm not feeling well.  I seriously couldn't do this without him.   Girls, you have no idea how lucky you are in the daddy department!


then again, maybe you do...

Girls, you've taught me so much about myself already.  I've learned to embrace the body I was blessed with and see beauty in it.  You've taught me to look past things like weight or bumps or dress size and focus on more important things, like health and wellness - physical, mental, and emotional.  I hope that down the road, I can continue to teach you about true beauty, inside and out, and that you will appreciate the hips/butt/thighs you will inevitably inherit from me.  I hope you will see yourselves how Daddy and I see you - absolute perfection.  Because after all, you were made to be this way. 

"You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made,
your works are wonderful..."
Psalm 139:13-14
Love you both like crazy,
family of four!
(or 3 and 2/3 if you want to be exact)


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