and the friend who helped me find some confidence through it.
You might look at this picture and see a happy and confident (pregnant) woman. But, the reality is that inside, I am frustrated and not very confident. What’s holding me back from achieving that complete confidence is my ever-constant battle with my weight. I know what you’re probably thinking right now. Umm, hello, you’re pregnant! Yes, I know. Pretty sure I am the one who is most aware of my pregnant state. But, you see, I have battled with weight my entire life, down to struggling with eating disorders for eleven years. You can read more about that in this post.
By the time my husband came home from deployment back in 2011 and after having had our first son, I had finally gotten down to the best shape I’d ever been in my life. I was so excited about my transformation. I felt confident, happy and amazing; and I finally had the ability to eat like a horse and not have it affect me so much!
But the transformed body didn’t last very long, when we decided to try for another child. I was so excited and ready! I was in the best shape ever, so I knew this pregnancy was going to be a lot easier than the first. I was also hoping that the weight loss would be easier, since I was in such great shape. I never anticipated what was going to occur over the next 20+ months.
Once I stopped taking the pill, it didn’t take long for us to get pregnant again. We were ecstatic! Unfortunately, that pregnancy was cut short, and we lost our son at 17 weeks. (You can find the posts about my pregnancy loss here.) By that time, I had gained a little over 10 lbs.
16 weeks with Andrew
I didn’t have an opportunity to lose that ten pounds before I got pregnant again. We were so happy to have another chance, but again lost that baby early on. Nervous and having slightly given up hope, we decided to just wait on God’s timing for the next baby. So, I jumped at the chance to lose those stubborn ten pounds and started doing Crossfit. I got continually frustrated as I watched the scale go up instead of down. What was going on? I was working my butt off and was reaping no benefits from it. Come to find out, I had gotten pregnant again immediately after the second pregnancy loss. I was beyond excited that I didn’t even care about the extra ten pounds. I ended up gaining about forty pounds with our miracle baby, Isaac. I was okay with that though, because I knew I would have time to worry about the weight after I gave birth to him. What I didn’t know was that God already had another baby in His plan, just FIVE months after Isaac’s birth! ACK! In that five months, I was only able to lose twenty-seven of those forty pounds, which meant I still had thirteen pounds hanging on. Well, I’m sure you can do the math. Add those thirteen pounds to the ten pounds I never lost after my pregnancy with Andrew, and you have a grand total of twenty-three extra pounds that I started off with during this pregnancy.
about a month after Isaac’s birth
during first trimester of our current baby boy
I’ll admit that the weight aspect really kept me from enjoying the beginning of this pregnancy. I was beyond frustrated. I had worked so hard to get into the best possible shape, when my husband was deployed, and now ever reaching that goal again is looking so bleak. Being pregnant-at-large is certainly not helping my mood.
Well, one day (through tears), I was expressing my frustrations and lack of confidence to my dear and close friend, Dana. If you remember, she was the one who took the pictures at our gender reveal party. I had come so far with my weight struggle, just to end up slightly back to where I was before I had finally gotten victory over my eating disorders. I don’t resent being pregnant at all. Please don’t take it the wrong way. I just never anticipated being pregnant back-to-back like that, so the continual weight gain had a very hard mental toll on me. Dana looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Oh Lydia, I wish you could see yourself the way everyone else sees you. You are beautiful. You truly are. When your husband says that to you, he means it. He, I, and everyone else sees you in a way that you certainly aren’t seeing.”
A picture with my son, Ian, and two of my beautiful, dearest friends.
Dana is the beauty on the far right.
After that, she encouraged me to do a photo shoot with her. You see, Dana specializes in beauty photography. She takes women, like myself, who lack confidence and transforms them into the beautiful people they really are. (She blogs about her photo shoots here.) She often says something to the effect of, “I’m not covering you with a mask. I’m simply enhancing the features that make you beautiful. I’m drawing the beauty out of you.”
I finally decided to let her take this no confidence, pregnant, bundle of a woman and paint her into a new canvas. I am so glad I did, because she helped me feel that confidence that I was so desperately lacking. She brought back that inner woman I felt like I had lost through all these pregnancies. When my husband saw the pictures, he said, “See?! THAT’S the sexy woman I see every day!”
So, now when I’m having my “beluga whale” pregnant days, I can look back and be reminded of how my husband sees me. But, I can’t just let myself be renewed by a photo shoot. God has been trying to daily show me that this transformation is more than what I allow myself to see on the outside. I have to let my mind be renewed through Him and allow myself to see me through His eyes. To God, we are all beautiful creatures, because HE created us! I must look past this weight struggle and see myself for the person He sees me as . . . His beautiful and wonderful child.