A Not-So Picture Perfect Baby Bump 5


I’m currently pregnant with my fourth child. I see these maternity photos of these perfect baby bumps all pristine and perfectly round, and then I look down at my own belly. It’s stretch marked. You can see the fine lines of soft-blue veins showing through my pale skin. There’s bulges at my sides where once there were not. It’s sort of bullet shaped with some dimples where I suppose, a baby body is not. It’s the sort of tummy you never take photos of with bare skin. It is not picture perfect, but you know, I think it is a better representation of what a baby bump really looks like, so I’m going to take that picture anyway. I’m going to show it, unaltered with filters or lighting, because no matter how many stretch marks it has, how misshapen it is, or how many veins you can see, it’s still a price I had to pay for motherhood—and I pay it with pride.

almost 31 weeks with baby 4

almost 31 weeks with baby 4

almost 31 weeks with baby 4

I remember my first labor. All I could smell was oranges, and not the fresh let’s-have-some-juice scent of oranges. No, the I’m trying-to-cover-a-smell-with-generic-orange fragrance that medical offices and hospitals seem to just love that makes me want to vomit scent of oranges. The room was muggy and overly hot, and the nurse kept telling me I couldn’t open the window, as if opening a window was somehow going to endanger my coming baby that was always taking forever to come—god, it seems like babies always take forever to come. Everything was set alive in a perfect scene of discomfort as the fluorescent lights hummed to the beep, beep, beep of the monitor the nurse also never shut off even though I wasn’t hooked up to it. I would have measured the time by those beeps if the contractions weren’t less ignorable.

Why was it, I wondered, people thought this was beautiful? How is sweat, blood, pain, and occasionally poop all in a nice sterile orange-scented room beautiful? Those are the sorts of things you notice when you’re in pre-labor. When you’re still pretty sure labor doesn’t hurt so bad and can think coherently about petty things and contradictions. It’s when the true labor starts that you see the animal hiding inside the “evolved” human. You see the way pain makes you stupid, vulgar, and loud– desperate and maybe even just a bit dangerous until it peaks, and something fantastic happens.

The world stops for you. The buzzing stops. The pain stops. The smells stop. The room isn’t so hot, and maybe not even really there. It’s just you and this slimy screaming child that you created—and it’s beautiful. Beautiful isn’t even a sufficient word to describe it, but it’ll have to do, because that’s the only word we have. It’s in that little bubble of ejected reality where nothing else but you and your baby exist that a bond is born. A second entity to carry a new mother though the all-night fits, spit-covered shoulders, and scream-induced migraines that accompany the miracle that is life. And once the rest of the universe comes raining back in suddenly it’s all so much less important. You catch yourself wondering if the pain, waiting, and annoyance are somehow critical to the creation of what you’ve just experienced. The way to be a tree a seed has to rip itself apart, break open, and face the harshness of the world outside to survive or die, a mother has to pay the price of life, watch her body stretch and reshape before breaking open her emotional center to love a child only the way a parent can.

It’s a price I pay with pride.

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5 thoughts on “A Not-So Picture Perfect Baby Bump

  • kellie

    with my first child my tummy looked exactly the same (and well lets be truthful it still does) and now being pregnant with 2nd child who knows what my tummy is going to look like by the end of it but im not concerned.

  • Ashley Vic

    Bob Frank.. I’ll go against everything I feel right now & actually give you the 3 seconds of attention you so pathetically crave. Exactly how long did you sit there & force yourself to come up with what I’m sure you call your “gee I’m just sooo funny” smart assed disgusting comment? Funny you feel the way that you do. Why are you even on here? Why would you click the link? Sadly, you were someone’s “sexually transmitted disease”… Yet somehow for you, that classification works.

  • Melanie schultz

    I really think that this Bob frank guy can go on somewhere. I can’t believe he would say that babies should be classified as sexual transmitted diseases. Babies are a blessing from God, not a disease. They are all a miracle, not something that you can take antibiotics for and you’re cured. A growing human inside of a woman is the best feeling in the world.

  • Nancy Cowden

    I remember how tired I was with my first labor. It was 24 hours long. No epidural in those days. Just pain and trying to breathe like LaMaze taught me. I had an IV as they gave me Demeral at some point. I popped the IV off and was spurting blood out of it. The poor student nurse almost fainted! My poor husband rubbed all the hair on his knuckles off from rubbing my lower back because I had back labor and the only thing that helped was counter pressure. They say you have superhuman strength during this time and I guess it’s true, I lifted my 300 lb husband off the floor, by his neck, one-handed!! After all this it took me and two nurses, pushing on my stomach, to get my son out of me. He was absolutely perfect! 10 lb. 6oz. And 23 in. long. He was alert and staring at everyone around him. It was like I gave birth to a 3 month old. My body was never the same as before. My second and last child was born early at 8 lb. 3oz. With only 3 pushes. I guess you could say my sin paved the way for his sister!