I usually bike to work, even/especially when I’m pregnant. Recently though, a stolen bike and a heatwave have landed me on the subway more often than not. And as I stand, crammed in a too-hot subway car, belly jolting and jiggling between stations, I’m reminded that I’ll never be the right kind of pregnant.
Nobody looks in my direction, let alone offers me a seat. People accidentally elbow my belly as they get off the subway, but never ask when I’m due. I don’t have a round belly, fashionably covered by a cute maternity shirt. People who know me offer an occasional congratulations, cautious in case they’re wrong, but that’s it. The only comment from a stranger came a couple of weeks ago, when a homeless man gestured at my stomach and announced, “It’s a boy!” I still frequently get mistaken for being a boy. Nobody reaches out to touch the bump.
I get it. I’ll never be cute pregnant. I’m too fat, too masculine, too awkward in this changing body. My belly is long, stretched from chest to pelvis. I wear the same rotation of five oversized polo shirts, and spend most of my day hitching up the maternity pants that are somehow always falling down.
I’m a different kind of pregnant, and that’s okay.
The type of pregnant I am is strong. I bike, hoist my daughter on to my shoulders, carry my own groceries.
The type of pregnant I am is calm. Mostly. I still worry about kick counts, iron levels, the impending reality of having to get a baby from inside to out. Of course I do. But I also don’t question everything I eat, worry about every twinge, or Google worst case scenarios. I trust that my body is doing what it’s supposed to.
The type of pregnant I am is healthy. I’ve grown one strong person and am, as far as anybody can tell, growing another. I read about first trimester sickness, second trimester exhaustion, third trimester aches with interest but not much understanding. I’ve made it through sixteen months of pregnancies almost vomit-free. I feel mostly the same as I did seven months ago. I’m grateful beyond measure for my body’s ability to conceive and gestate with relative ease.
Even if the type of pregnant I am was none of these things, it would still be okay. Good, even.
Today I’m done comparing my bump to an imagined one that (I’m fairly sure) doesn’t exist. I’m recognizing that I’m not the only self-conscious pregnant person out there, or the only one to feel far from the ideal. I’m probably not even the only one on the subway car. I’m accepting that every body, every bump, every pregnancy is its own. I’m taking the first intentional picture of this pregnancy, and celebrating my body exactly as it is.
Happy #bumpday, everybody.