If I had to isolate one thing that was hardest for me when we were experiencing infertility (in the form of recurrent miscarriages,) it would have to have been the bellies.
I had some major jealousy issues over the adorable, cute, and even the I’m-super-uncomfortable baby bumps. The photo shoots with the glowing pregnant woman in the middle of a field smiling down at her baby to be. The pics with daddy’s arms wrapped around pregnant mommy and their hands making a heart right over that cute little munchkin in utero. The colored ribbons announcing the baby’s gender. Everywhere I looked. Everywhere I went, there was another belly. My “babe-dar” (is that a thing?) was crazy sensitive.
I wanted a belly so bad. (funny how things change 😉 As the months and years and losses built upon one another (even after our adoption), I became increasingly certain that I would never know what a baby belly felt like and it broke my heart. I only knew the sickness of the first trimester, time after time after time. The belly bands and the maternity clothes I had gotten when we first got pregnant were crying in the corner of the closet, alone and unworn. (oh wait, it was me who was crying.)
I said that if I ever got the chance to carry a child full term, I would never post a picture of my baby bump. Reason being, throughout our journey of miscarriages, I realized that SO SO SO SO SO many women were going through infertility or child loss at the same time I was, and we pretty much all agreed that it sucked to open facebook and see nothing but reminders that our arms were still empty and our tummies were still flat.
But then it happened. God allowed me to grow a baby bump, and I was so proud (and terrified). I was so excited that MY WOMB, the one that I thought was barren forever, was all stretched out with a tiny human inside. About 24 weeks went by and I still hadn’t posted one belly pic. (you all know what i mean by a belly pic. The profile bump..right?)
There were a few friends who lived far away who kept asking for belly pics (prob just wanted to see me all large and in charge), and I strugged a lot over whether or not I would post one. While I was struggling through that, afraid of piling extra hurt on my friends who were waiting for a baby, I realized that a part of me not posting pics was plain selfish. It was out of fear! I was terrified (for most of AB’s pregnancy) that any day I would wake up and everything would come crashing to a tragic end.
I count it a blessing that those friends asked for the belly pics, because it encouraged me to accept and embrace what God had done in my life and share that joy with the world. I checked my instagram and I only posted 4 belly pics the whole pregnancy, but I decided that it was okay to post those few. I think that even my friends still waiting for a baby were rejoicing with us because they knew God had done a miracle in our lives.
Our family was watching a slideshow of pictures the other night, and a video popped up of Annabelle kicking around in my belly. It seriously looked like there was a small animal doing somersaults and dancing under my shirt (lol but also creepy). I had forgotten that I took videos of her kicking in my belly. I was so desperate to capture her life.
It makes me really sad that I didn’t fully embrace the joy of the belly when I finally got it. So, yeah. I’m not saying go posting a pic each week of your growing bel-bel..although for some that’s totally your way of sharing your journey and joy.
But I do want to say to those of you who are pregnant after a long wait or loss, don’t be afraid to share your story or embrace your bump. You don’t have to rub it in people’s faces, but it’s totally legitimate and healthy to be thankful for that season of life that goes by faster than it feels when you’re in it. I wish I would have done a better job embracing the time I spent carrying Annabelle rather than fearing losing her.
If you’re in a place of waiting or hurting and those belly and baby pics dishearten you, it’s really healthy for you to click “unfollow” or “hide from newsfeed” for awhile. Better yet take a media fast. Don’t keep consuming the things that feed your hurt. Of course you can’t help it when you see bellies out and about, but social media tends to be the main culprit and you can limit your dosage.
If you decide to keep following those belly-pic-posting friends, be joyful for them. Even the newlyweds or teen preggos or the fill-in-the-blank-people-that-make-you-extra-jealous-or-sad, rejoice with them. You don’t know what they’ve been through or what is best for them. God does. The Bible says to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.” -Romans 12:15
I think we’re generally better at the crying with those hurting than the rejoicing with the happy people part. Even when you see those bellies popping out all around you, choose joy. I pray that your time will come. And if it doesn’t, and you’re not a mom yet, I believe that God can still fill your cup to overflow if you let Him.
Be blessed, and Happy Halloween 🙂 (this post will rock your socks off if you’re looking for a good read on Christians & Halloween participation.)