I remember being pregnant with my first child. Just like with any pregnancy, my body, mind and emotions went through many changes over the course of a few months. I never quite felt like myself but more than anything, I dreaded the weight gain. On one hand, I wanted a healthy baby, while on the other hand, I wanted nothing more than to stay a size 2. So, I was caught up in this Catch 22 of trying to gain “just enough” weight and not an ounce more.
All was working out well until I had about eight weeks left to go. Then, all of a sudden, I blew up like a balloon in a matter of a few days. It was enough to make me wonder if killer bees had come in and stung me one night in my sleep! The doctor noticed this at my next check-up, and my swollen ankles and face coupled with a sky-high blood pressure reading was enough to have her admit me to the hospital.
I spent the night in the hospital and was instructed to collect an entire gallon of urine samples. Needless to say, that was easy to do while pregnant. The results showed that I had preeclampsia which consists of scary blood pressure levels and lots of body fluids. This diagnosis immediately led to feelings of guilt. I had turned away sweets and cut out caffeine—a death sentence to my already lethargic body. I had walked every day and took my prenatal vitamins. No matter how much the doctors and nurses assured me that this wasn’t a condition I could have avoided, I felt responsible in some way.
Truth be told, my first pregnancy was a healthy journey—except for that whole preeclampsia monster—about learning the importance of my body and its functions. As an avid reader and word nerd, who also knew zip about pregnancy, I had read all the “pregnancy for dummies” materials I could find. Although I still wasn’t keen on gaining a ton of weight, it was refreshing to see that most of it was extra blood and water and such to nurture the baby. It wasn’t all just fat. Well, not if you actually did eat right.
Luckily, my son was born just two weeks early, and most of my swelling diminished within a week. I lost most of the weight and did eventually fit back into a size 2, but that didn’t matter so much anymore. Obsessing over my body image had been replaced with the awe and wonder of how God used my body to take part in a miracle. I had conceived, carried and given birth to a precious baby boy. He had no health or mental defects, and shy of a short NICU stay—thanks again to the preeclampsia monster—he was perfect. Of all the women in the world, God chose me to mother this child and personally knit him together in my womb (Psalm 139:13). What a privilege!
Of course, being a woman and a perfectionist who has dealt with many self-image issues over the span of her life, I still struggle from time to time. I have another child now, a little girl. She is a year and a half, and I just now got back in all of my clothes. It took twice as long this time, but I wasn’t that worried about it. I also weigh a few pounds more this time around than I did post-baby number one.
After my second child, I focused on how muscle weighs more than fat and how important it is to work toward being healthy versus being skinny. A big part of this is watching what I put in my body and being more mindful about what I eat. An even bigger part though is constantly counting my blessings and having a spirit of thankfulness to God for my body.
There are many people who struggle with illnesses and rely on tons of medications just to make it through the day. Others are handicapped in some form so that they can’t enjoy many of the daily tasks most of us take for granted or even complain about having to do. I can climb stairs, workout at the gym, jump on the trampoline with my kids, ride a bike, swim at the lake, and the list continues.
Overall, it’s all about perspective. When we focus on the things God deems important instead of what the world deems important, then our whole life can change. According to Romans 8:5 says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” It’s hard to notice the needs of others or enjoy life if you’re going around worried about how you look in a certain outfit.
Trust me, I know this is easier said than done. It’s a constant struggle for me to not nitpick everything “wrong” with myself. That’s when knowing God’s Word and keeping it on your heart, mind and lips helps tremendously. Our bodies were not created for our own desires but to honor God, our Creator (1 Cor. 6:19–20), and all of His works are wonderful (Psalms 139:14).