Continuing on with this series where we explore pregnancy body changes, we bring you Jessica's story. Jess is a wonderful woman in her mid-thirties. Her vibrancy can best be described as full of life and adventure!
In addition to being the mother of five beautiful children with her husband of 16 years, she is a life coach, entrepreneur, homeschools her kids and runs a blog where she shares encouraging stories about life and what she wants to be remembered for.
Read on to hear Jess’ account of how she experienced the transformation of her body during pregnancies.
1. How would you describe the state of being pregnant?
I would say the state of being pregnant is beautiful, almost a magical experience. I did not necessarily love the experience of being pregnant, but it is hard to beat the feeling of having your baby move inside your belly, understanding that you are growing another life inside you. That’s pretty powerful.
2. Do you remember the moment that you began to notice your body changing? Tell us about that time. What did you notice first?
When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I was the thinnest I ever was in my life. It took forever for the ‘baby bump’ to show. Because I was excited about being pregnant, I wanted to share proof with friends and family, but it wasn’t really noticeable until around 6 months during this first pregnancy.
For all five of my pregnancies, I had a variety of body sensations, from exhaustion to supersonic smell. My personality and mindset was such that I tried to lean in and accept each aspect of the process in its season. While each pregnancy was unique, there were definitely similarities, which helped me recognize when I was moving along through the stages.
3. What were your greatest fears related to pregnancy and your body changing? Did they change as you had more than one child?
I always wanted to become a mom, even at a young age. I didn't have a great relationship with my mom and there was something inside of me that always wanted to redeem that.
So when I first became pregnant, I was over the moon excited and anxiously awaited the changes that were about to happen to my body. Now after having been pregnant for five times, I've also dealt with the dread of fitting back into my pre-pregnancy clothing.
In general, our culture doesn’t extend a lot of kindness to post-pregnant bodies. So for me, I had to be intentional with being kind to myself and thanking my body for all it was doing to grow a new life. I also needed to give myself time and space to appreciate how my skin was capable of growing and stretching to accommodate all it was bringing forth.
4. Let’s talk about stretch marks. Did you have them? If so, how did that impact your view of your body, your skin, yourself?
I did not have any stretch marks from my first or second pregnancy, but oh man did they show up for my third. And then they began to accumulate on the fourth and fifth pregnancy! When I see them while I’m getting dressed, I just feel appreciation for what the stretch marks represent. I love my kids more than anything and seeing these marks as part of the gift that my children are, changes how I view them. They are beautiful reminders to me of what my body is capable of doing, and I'm happy to have them.
5. How did touch play a role during your pregnancy and afterwards?
There is nothing like skin to skin with your new babe! That's probably my favorite thing after my babies were born. It's pure magic. Being touched-out is real though, so I have had to learn to be intentional with reserving some of that for my husband to keep our connection strong. Touch is not my love language so my capacity for touch has grown and increased with each baby that has been born into our family.
6. Looking back, are there words of advice that you would give your first pregnant self (or other pregnant women) to help navigate the transformation of the body?
Rest as much as you can and don't rush the process. My advice is to absolutely partner with your body and to appreciate all the work it is doing and give yourself SO much grace. Learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power and when we can live from understanding the process, it removes the fear of the unknown. Be intentional to set up a support system of moms who have gone before you and ACCEPT help! Surround yourself with positive voices. You do not need to listen to any negative voices- set firm boundaries in place to protect your peace.