I had just finished clumsily fighting to get my toddler into the car when I heard the sweet voice from behind me, “You look beautiful.”
When I turned, I saw an older woman smiling kindly at me. It took me a minute to realize why she had complimented me. Unwashed hair in a messy bun, oversized shirt, and baggy shorts—I wasn’t sure why I would be called beautiful today.
Then, I remembered, Oh, yeah. I’m like, super pregnant.
Finally, I found my voice, “Thank you,” I replied, out-of-breath as usual. “I really don’t feel beautiful.”
“Oh, yes, you are,” she said with certainty. “All of you need to hear it.”
“All of you” meaning all of us pregnant women. We need to hear it.
I need to hear it.
Because sometimes—OK, most of the time—I don’t believe it.
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These days, I walk by the mirror and don’t even recognize myself. My petite figure is gone, replaced by a belly that seems so large I wonder if there might actually be two babies in there. I waddle when I walk and awkwardly bang my tummy into things, as it feels impossible to adjust to being so big.
This is so unlike the body I know, the body I’m used to. I don’t feel like me and most days don’t feel beautiful.
Physically, I’ve had a rough time this pregnancy. Getting bigger has been hard on my body, and it hasn’t adjusted gracefully. So in many ways, I’m counting down the weeks.
But at the same time, I’m grieving each time a week passes. You see, this is definitely my last baby.
My husband and I have talked it through—we know two children are what we can honestly handle and realistically provide for.
So after these next few months, I’ll never again feel baby kicks. I’ll never again get to live the true miracle that is pregnancy—growing a human life . . . from scratch.
And this miracle truly is beautiful.
So what the woman on the other side of motherhood said to me was absolutely right: all of us pregnant women are beautiful. Even with our massive middles, swollen ankles, stretch marks, and lack of coordination.
It is truly such a beautiful gift to nurture a new life.
And this sweet time is so very short. In less than a year, it’s over. So instead of wishing these days away, I’ll cherish the precious miracle happening inside me. Grateful for the ability to give life to my baby boy and the great gift of being his mommy.
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In just a little while from now, when my own pregnancy is said and done, I will probably find myself complimenting every expectant mommy I see. Feeling compelled to remind them just how precious this time is and how beautiful they truly are.
Even when they don’t feel it.