Ever since I was a child, I have looked forward to the experience of being pregnant. As I've said before, it can be the most perfect time in a woman's life. When else is it socially acceptable to stick out your belly, eat as much of whatever you want and be treated like Cleopatra by all who surround you?
My pregnancy experience, however, has not matched my childhood predictions. I have enjoyed the experience with minimal unpleasant side effects, but I'm not "big as a house" like I thought I'd be. In fact, most people enjoy telling me that I "don't even look pregnant," which is irritating, because I could swear that my belly doesn't usually extend past my bustline -- but maybe I'm delusional.
For the most part, I've been able to accept that my pregnancy journey is specific to me and enjoy the process. Though I was unable to feel the baby move until much later in my pregnancy than most, I still enjoy the quiet moments in the morning and right before bed when the baby is most active and I can feel the flutters and flips inside my belly. I love guessing which body part is where and seeing how the baby reacts to external stimulus. The baby loves kisses from Daddy and the loud music at church. The baby is not so impressed by the fetal monitor at the doctor's office.
Of course, I realize all of these interpretations are guesswork. I assume the baby enjoys something when s/he is more active in response. I assume the baby doesn't enjoy something when s/he kicks or punches something inside me that hurts. Even if I'm wrong, it's fun to guess.
Where I've had a hard time adjusting, though, has been in the case of photography. Being that I've always envisioned having this ginormous, round pregnant belly, it's been really hard for me to get excited about taking photos. I had always wanted a professional maternity shoot, but I kept holding off on scheduling it because I wanted to wait until I "popped," which moms I knew swore would happen "any day now."
When I looked at the calendar last week and realized that "any day now" could also bring a baby, I accepted that it was now or never. At first, I figured I'd just have a quick photo taken of Brian and me for our Christmas cards and to mark the memory of our first Christmas as a married couple and last Christmas without children.
A brief conversation with one of Brian's former coworkers led us to a Saturday morning photo shoot in a local park. The quantifiable end result is a collection of photos by Donavan Garrison that will serve well to document the upcoming birth of our first child and also ensure friends and family get a Christmas card from us before Valentine's Day.
But the end result that can be seen or measured is my full acceptance that I am who I am, and regardless of how that compares to the others in the world, it's perfect and normal for me. I'm thankful for the experience Donavan gave us that allowed me to embrace my figure for what it is and to truly get excited about meeting the little person growing inside of me.