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“Belly Envy” Turned into Self Love

Belly envy takes on many shapes…literally. Throughout the course of my 32 years of life, I have found myself envying all types of bellies.

In my early to mid-twenties, I had “flat belly” envy. I was an endurance cyclist and a runner with a pooch. I could never seem to quite get that flat belly that I always strived for. Although I was very thin and fit, and looked the best I ever had, I still had belly envy. I wanted the flat belly and defined abs that the runner next to me had.

From flat belly envy to baby bump envy

In my late twenties, my husband and I started trying for a family. Although my gynecologist had told me in the past that my years of endurance sports would make it extremely difficult to get pregnant, I was still very excited and hopeful in the early months of trying to get pregnant. The months went by and nothing, not even the return of my cycle. We saw a fertility specialist and I was advised to gain weight and discontinue any type of exercise that would raise my heart rate over 140bpm. After several failed infertility treatments, I found myself experiencing belly envy again. This time it was “baby bump envy.” It seemed like everywhere I went, I was surrounded by pregnant women and their beautiful baby bumps. No longer did I care, nor notice, women with the flat belly I yearned for in my early twenties, I only saw baby bumps.  I even dreamt of baby bumps because I so desperately wanted my own.

A few years later, I found myself living the baby bump dream. I proudly, and so gratefully, sported tight maternity tops to let my growing belly shine. No matter how many pounds I gained during my pregnancy, or how many new stretch marks I developed, I was so proud of my baby bump. I cherished my baby bump and the little miracle growing in my belly so much!

Fast forward to today, and the ninth infertility treatment later, I find myself again living the dream of another miracle growing inside of me. I love my baby bump; however, I still find myself having baby bump envy. This time, however, I am envious of those with the cute, round, petite, “don’t look like you are pregnant from the back” bellies like the one I had with my daughter. This belly envy was prompted one morning at my daughter’s open gym class. I found myself surrounded by several other glowing pregnant mamas. As my daughter skipped from activity to activity, I migrated across the gym and found myself chatting with most of the pregnant mama’s in the room. As I chatted with each of the pregnant mama’s, I found myself thinking “oh, we must totally be due around the same time because our bellies are about the same size.”

Ha, was I wrong! Every pregnant mom that I spoke with was due before me, one even due two full months before me. As I drove home with my daughter, my belly envy kicked in. Here I was, the largest pregnant women in the room and I was the furthest away from my due date. While I am so thankful for my baby bump, even if it was the largest baby bump in the room at 25 weeks, I couldn’t help but to compare myself to others, something we women are notorious for doing. 

Learning to appreciate my body, and my belly

This pregnancy I am huge. In fact, I recently went to the doctor and I am a few pounds shy of the weight I was when I delivered my daughter. I spoke with my doctor about my weight and she was not concerned, leaving me to see my quite large belly in a different light. Yes, I am feeling very large and not exactly confident in my clothes, but I am also cherishing this time for the miracle growing inside of me and for the gift of overcoming infertility. I will have more to lose after this pregnancy, but you know what, I don’t really care. I know my body is adapting to the pregnancy how it needs to for my baby, and if packing on more pounds is what my body desires for my baby, then “large and in charge” I’ll happily be. 

I will not get caught up in the post-baby bodies that the Hollywood stars flaunt in magazines; instead, I’ll celebrate not having to feel the pressure of beginning an intense diet and exercise regimen to make date for the next “cover pose” immediately after giving birth. I’ll adore the sight of my newborn baby snuggled up and sleeping on the “extra cushion” I am carrying after birth. I’ll see the stretch marks on my sag-a-lot breasts as beauty marks symbolizing the life I created and nurtured in and through my body.

Have you ever been stricken with belly envy? I feel like most, if not all of us, have in some form or another. It may not have been belly envy that consumed you, but instead maybe it was hair envy or skin envy. I believe these feelings are normal and propelled by the society we live in today. I also feel that it is absolutely fine to desire a certain look because as women, we like to feel good and be confident in our own skin. There is nothing wrong with this; however, I do think it’s important that we cherish our self-perceived “imperfections” that make us unique, as much, if not more. As I once was told, every wrinkle has a story. Why try to cover up or eliminate smile lines when behind every line is a memory that brought you happiness?

Belly envy no more

I have made a pledge to myself that no longer will I “suffer” from belly envy. When the natural instinct to compare myself to others kicks in, I’ll remind myself of the pledge I made to myself, as well as remembering all of the amazing things my body has endured and gifted me with. I pledge to free myself of “belly envy” and make changes in my appearance based on those that I want, versus those that are driven by society. I will make changes in my appearance that make me feel better and increase my overall well-being, instead of those that help me to look a certain way. I will love my body and each dimple, stretch mark, and extra skin because each is a symbol of the most magical thing I’ve done.

I encourage women everywhere to remember the beautifully refined, sparkling jewel you were created to be. Just like jewels, we all come in different shapes, size, and colors, each of them being unique and perfect in their own way. You are a jewel to be showcased for the natural sparkle that radiates from your being.

Appreciating all bellies for the magical work that they do

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