Like many pregnant people, I put my hands around my newly inflated belly. It’s partly because that’s what I see pregnant people do, but I also cradle my bump to highlight how round this belly is becoming. This is to prove to myself and others around me that this is a pregnant belly, that I have only changed shape due to another human taking over my body – not because I am no longer looking after myself anymore.
Sometimes I pinch my belly. I catch a glimpse of it when standing sideways in the mirror or just sitting down, and it looks so alien to me. I pinch it to remind myself that it is a pregnancy belly – the pinch is to make sure that there’s not lots of fat suddenly covering my stomach. When I do pinch, I’m only pinching skin, which reassures me that this dome-shaped belly is growing because of my continuously expanding uterus and growing foetus, not because I’m gaining weight.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder, in my case anyway, makes me need to control how I look. I don’t like giving that control away – not for a photo, not to a hairdresser, not even to this baby. I understand of course that I’m going through a completely natural, miracle-like transformation, in which I am giving LIFE to another person – but even that is adding to how much I sometimes freak out about being pregnant.
When I read my first and only pregnancy book, there was every possible side effect under the sun listed within the first few chapters. Pregnancy can cause bigger hands, bigger feet, a rounder face, bleeding gums, backache, headaches, bloating, constipation – the list goes on. That book only made me feel shit about pregnancy, so it’s currently sitting in my ‘to give away’ pile of books on the living room floor. There’s so many body changes that you don’t necessarily even imagine, and the not-knowing of how my body will react to pregnancy during the next five months is terrifying. I don’t want my chubby cheeks again – my face has only just slimmed out from the baby face I hated in my teen years. Neither do I want huge hands.
I hope I do not sound vain or selfish. I know that the baby needs room to grow. I know that having a baby is a wonderful thing, but I am scared nonetheless. Sometimes I am already fed up of being pregnant – I miss having more energy, I miss not feeling so hungry that I want to throw up, I miss my clothes fitting me. I miss not feeling so swollen. On the other hand, I am somewhat excited for the final months, the big watermelon tummy, my belly button looking popped out like the tie of a balloon.
I suppose I am just overwhelmed with all the changes. Not only is my body changing uncontrollably, but my whole life is changing. We are moving at the end of this month, so I will have to say goodbye to Edinburgh. My SO will start having to go to the office instead of working from home all the time. I’ll be moving to a new town, completely alien to the both of us. And then of course, by December I’ll have a new-born to look after.
With all these changes, I think I’m allowed to freak out about my body no longer being just mine. Letting your body take over as it creates another human, making you become a passenger in your own vessel, is mind-boggling stuff.
And don’t even get me started on how much child-birth is scaring the shit out of me.