Hormones, man. Hormones are some very powerful things. The changes that happen to our bodies in adolescence thanks to those ‘mones are HUGE! I’m pretty sure that is why I had such a long and drawn out awkward phase. I was surprised and not super excited when, for me, pregnancy felt like a second round of puberty. Suddenly all the awkward came back and with it, some of the same insecurities and issues I thought I’d left in the past.
I know there are people for whom neither puberty nor pregnancy caused the huge shift from graceful swan to ugly duckling, but I think there are far more of you out there who know what that shift feels like. With pregnancy, all of a sudden there can be zits and yes, hair, where there was none before. There may be mood swings, smells, and all the other
awkward beautiful changes of pregnancy that feel eerily familiar…BECAUSE IT IS PUBERTY ALL OVER AGAIN!
I wish we went into the process of repubertizing with a more realistic and compassionate understanding of what it could feel like. As it stands, we are bombarded with images and expectations of how beautiful and natural it is to be pregnant. Glowy stock photos of smiling women who look totally normal except for the bump and I’ll admit, I do love the look of a big, beautiful belly…on OTHER PEOPLE! I really have a hard time seeing it on myself. It feels a bit vain to say it, but a lot of my ability to project confidence has always been tied to how good I think I look. I’m not alone and I’m not ashamed. The rapid and unpredictable changes my outside undergoes in pregnancy make it really tough for my inside to feel like the gorgeous and bold creature it usually does. True confession, I am writing more as a parent/permanently awkward duck person and less as a doula right now, but I feel really strongly that by sharing some of my personal stuff here I can help open the conversation about body-image, self-esteem, and confidence in pregnancy and postpartum so that more of us feel okay, if not graceful, in our expanding and contracting skins.
So, if you’ve ever felt insecure in high school raise your hand. Most of you, right? If you ever had glasses, braces, acne, b.o., questionable fashion sense, raging crushes on everyone, and out of control hair raise your hand. Just me and Tina Belcher then? Ok, but you get the picture. It wasn’t cute. So now that I’ve basically gone through puberty three times, I’ve learned a thing or two. You know how in Groundhog Day or Freaky Friday or that Jennifer Garner movie I forget the name of, the main character can’t move on until they learn the lesson they’re supposed to learn? I think pregnancy awkwardness is a little like that, or at least we can spin it that way. We have this unique opportunity to be insecure and awkward and uncomfortable again, but with the knowledge that it ends and when it does we will be something more than when it began. And, bonus, sometimes we can reach back into ourselves and take the hand of that insecure younger self to show them what they have become. That before they got awkward again (thanks, pregnancy) they grew up and swanned, or rather grew up and realized that being a duck isn’t ugly! I guess what I’m trying to say is that reconnecting to our painfully awkward inner-teens can be a positive outcome of the temporary, hormonally charged, physically and emotionally taxing state that is pregnancy.
Some days of pregnancy are harder than others, and some days can feel lonely in a skin and body you don’t feel comfortable in. On those days, blame the hormones, have a cookie, and have a frank and compassionate chat with your inner awkwardness. Both of you may feel better for it.
Please feel free to share your awkward puberty or pregnancy stories in the comments, misery loves company!