It happened at Square Lake, circa 1989.
I was seven or eight. I noticed a women out of the corner of my eye-- just a normal beachgoer I'd never met before. There was nothing notable about her, except for one little thing: she was probably 8 months pregnant and wearing a blue string bikini.
To me, a kid who really never spent much time around pregnant people (my brother is 18 months younger than me, so I don't really remember my mom being pregnant), I thought this was incredibly strange. Maybe even embarrassing, like accidentally seeing a nip slip or something (I live in America where nipples are apparently obscene).
I diverted my eyes, and casually went back to building my impressive sandcastle. I remember being baffled at the time: you can wear a bikini while pregnant?! Why on earth would you want to show off your fat belly? Also, won't the baby drown if you go swimming? They are completely under the water! How can they breathe?!?
Clearly, I had a lot to learn.
25 years later, I think pregnant women are adorable... especially in a swimsuit. And yet, this childhood memory sticks with me.
Precisely why I added "wear a bikini while pregnant" to my list of fears to conquer.
It's not that I feel bad about my body.
Honestly, when I look at my pregnant self, I see mostly adorable (just being honest ;)... except when I'm in a florescent-lit dressing room at Old Navy trying to squeeze into shorts I thought would work on my pregnant body, but so-so-so do not.
I think the thing that weirded me out about exposing my bump is the vulnerability of it all. There's something unsettling about feeling so... on display. Would people stare? Would I look like a beached whale? Would I inadvertently scar a seven-year-old girl who was just trying to build a damn sandcastle? Only one way to find out.
On our recent trip to Florida, I packed one swimsuit. It was a bikini-- my regular bottoms with a new top to accommodate my much larger boobs (no one is complaining).
I spent an afternoon with my husband, mom and in-laws at a beach near Ft. Myers. We found a spot, I took a deep breath, removed my coverup, and parked a lounge chair, book in hand. Later, we went for a long walk on the beach and had lunch. I didn't go swimming, but I now know that unborn babies actually live underwater, so drowning isn't exactly an issue so long as I don't drown.
Oddly, I felt more confident than ever wearing a bikini.
I'm usually self-conscious about my mid-section, but now that it's three times its normal size and rock hard, I kind of love it! I knew pregnant bellies were firm, but I didn't expect them to be so flattering! It's like your actual body becomes Spanx. Plus, I think there's something about growing a human from scratch that makes you stop focusing on your negative body issues. All of a sudden, I realized I no longer GAF.
As for staring-- from both kids and adults alike-- I didn't notice and I didn't care. Here's the picture to prove it.
What's funny, is that this picture was taken about 6 weeks ago, and feel like I barely even look pregnant-- especially compared to now! I've still got 85 days-ish left of this pregnancy, and with summer just around the corner, I think there will be plenty more opportunities to don my bikini (provided it still fits!).
Can't believe I'm writing these words.... but I'm kind of looking forward to it.
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This isn't my first body image post... so in case you're interested, here's a little about the time I worked out shirtless (but in a sports bra. Relax.). Also, have you ever had someone sketch you? It made me feel a lot more exposed and vulnerable than I expected!
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