When I am pregnant, I gain a lot of weight, and I mean a lot. Non-pregnant me is fit and lithe, but pregnant me packs on weight far in excess of medical recommendations. I gave birth to three children in four years, and I gained and then lost nearly 70 pounds each time. I dreaded many an OB appointment along the way, knowing that routinely gaining 10 pounds per month would elicit scoldings from my doctors. And while my weight yo-yoed from the low to the high hundreds, and then back down again, so too did my emotions and insecurities about my body.
I wanted to love the pregnant me. I wanted to delight in pregnancy and embrace the tiny sliver of my life that I would spend sharing my body with another person. I wanted to feel beautiful, but as my frame ballooned and my skin grew taut from puffiness, I grew less secure and more aware of how I felt when a camera pointed in my direction.
Badgered by my own vanity, I hid in the back of group photos and refused to let my husband take pictures of the pregnant me, even when he offered encouraging words about my appearance. The thought of someone tagging me in a Facebook photo sent shivers down my spine. So I avoided the camera altogether.
I can still recall the advice doled out to me by a grandmotherly friend: “Just make sure you take pictures of yourself while you’re pregnant,” she offered. “Your kids will want to see them one day.” Like most of the unsolicited pregnancy advice I received, I disregarded her counsel.
But today, now that my youngest is 2 ½ years old and all signs point to the end of the childbearing portion of my life, I realize that I should have taken that sweet lady’s advice. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m struggling with closing the door on more children, or maybe it’s because I think that other pregnant women are gloriously beautiful and I wish I could have seen myself the same way, but if I could go back, I’d take pictures of the pregnant me. I might even splurge on one of those trendy pregnancy photo shoots. I certainly wouldn’t allow my own vanity to prevent me from documenting the time.
Thankfully, my husband, knowing me better than I sometimes know myself, slyly captured one image of me when I was nine months pregnant with our second child. He snapped it while my son and I were waiting in line for the carousel, and today it sits framed on his office desk for all the world to see. And I love it. When I look at it, I don’t see 70 pounds of baby weight or excessive water retention.
All I see is love.
So if I may be so bold, can I offer you one piece of unsolicited pregnancy advice? Don’t avoid the camera. Take pictures of the pregnant you, even when you feel insecure and your vanity screams no! Because one day, other than the hazy memories, those pregnancy photos will be all you have to remember that tiny sliver of your life.