Mother Talk , the home of blog book tours, is trying a new thing-- Blog Bonanza Fridays, where everyone who wants to, blogs about a particular pre-suggested topic. I though I'd give it a try. Today's topic, in conjunction with the blog tour of Ariana Huffington's book On Becoming Fearless, is, unsurprisingly, your fearless moment.
I have a round face. I also have PCOS, and (at least partially) as a consequence of it, am fairly overweight. These three things put together mean that I rarely look good in photographs. So I learned that if I take photographs, I can't be in them. Sometimes, though, there is more than one camera on the scene. So I got very good at hiding from cameras and, failing that, at "convincing" people not to take my picture.
And then A died. Sometime in the next couple of hours I realized that I don't have that many pictures of myself pregnant with A. Actually, I don't think *I* have any. I am pretty sure somebody took a few pictures at the New Year's party that should have me in them, but I haven't yet asked if they exist. When I was pregnant with Monkey, JD took some barely dressed and some nude pictures of me. And I remember actually willingly taking some others, at parties, with friends. But I started this pregnancy 10 lbs heavier than I started the one with Monkey, and, by that day in January, I gained 30 more. I was enormous, and I didn't like the way I looked.
A couple of weeks before A died, JD took a picture of me and Monkey playing on the floor. He took it with my then new phone while I wasn't looking. The angle was all wrong, my face looked fat and swollen, and I made him erase that picture. And just now, as I was typing that I realized why it bothers me so much that I made him erase it-- that was the only picture of my two kids together.
When my water broke, I was only 2cm dilated. It was, I think, past 16 hours since the start of the induction, and I didn't know how much longer it was going to go, so I agreed to pain meds. But first, I wanted to take a shower. A hot shower makes me feel better when I am in labor-- it helps with the contractions and generally puts me in a different space. I stood there, caressing my belly, thinking of how much I loved the boy in it. He was gone, but not yet entirely. In a few short hours I would find out all I would ever know about him. But at that moment, in the shower, he was still a little bit of a mystery. And, at that moment, my pregnant self looked sadly beautiful to me. I think JD knew what I was thinking. I think he was thinking it too. But when I asked if he wanted to take a picture now, he said no. That was probably right-- the two of us will remember how that moment felt, and taking a picture would've just screwed it up. It's not like anybody else would ever see it anyway.
When I had a chance to think about my body next, and I don't mean where did it hurt-- it hurt in plenty of places,-- I mean how I felt about my body, I surprised myself. I apparently had made a decision to try to be friends with my body. It felt like a conscious decision, but it also felt like I didn't have to struggle with it, like it just came, like I didn't have a choice. I think this decision came from a place where lying to oneself is not an option, a calm, rational place, a place of hard-won wisdom. It just felt like the right thing to do. After all, it is the body that carried and birthed my two children. And it is the body that I know I will soon have to ask to do it again.
Now, me being overweight has been a fairly constant source of hurt for me, but I don't think it seriously impacted my sense of self-worth. (It might not have always been like this. In fact, I am pretty sure I was a far more insecure teenager.) Thinking about that, I realized that I differentiate myself from my body, and that my body issues have had only minimal impact on what I think of *myself*. See, I am what I do and feel. My body is where I live. That doesn't mean that I didn't have an occasional moment where I'd asked JD what he needs such a broken wife for, but it does mean I pretty much never thought that the "broken" part actually referred to me rather than my body.
We went on vacation with friends last month to try to make new memories for our new normal. I didn't hide from the camera. Several times allowing someone to take my picture was almost physically uncomfortable. And yet, I did it. Which was a victory not in the least because at the moment I was not a happy body camper. I thought I couldn't decipher the physiological cues my body was giving me, and, frankly, that to me meant my body wasn't keeping up its end of the bargain. Surprisingly, I wasn't mad at it, just seriously confused and disoriented. But, as it turns out I can decipher the cues. Hold your applause.
A friend of mine says she doesn't make a big distinction between herself and her body. Seeing as she is one of the best-adjusted people I know, it's a distinct possibility that she has it right, and I am all wrong. But for now I choose to believe that these are two decent approaches to the same issue, and that both take guts.
By the way, a couple of pictures of me from that vacation came out very well. There is also more than a couple of pretty bad ones. But for now, I'll call this a success.