We seem to be all about growth, round these parts.
Living in the middle of the countryside, as we do now, I’ve never been so in tune with the rolling change of the seasons. The hedgerows are swelling, narrowing the lanes that lead up to the fields from our house and groaning under the weight of elderflower, wild roses, and brambles. I monitor the latter’s growth most expectantly, with blackberry crumbles and pies and jams on my mind.
Ottilie is changing and growing faster than ever, too. She still has just one volume- loud- and bellows long strings of words from morning until bedtime (‘get downstairs Teddy, no dogs upstairs!’). I find she seems suddenly keen to do things independently, likes to sing a medley of nursery rhymes to herself during bathtime, and is fascinated by seeing what happens when she throws things from a height.
And then there’s my growth, of course.
My bump seems to have suddenly become big and rounded, and with stomach muscles already relaxed from carrying Ottilie, it’s been a quicker process this time around. The baby stretches and rolls and punches away inside me, reminding me that it’s very much as real and present as its attention-absorbing older sister. Maybe it knows I sometimes forgot I was pregnant during the early weeks, and is making up for time now it can make its presence felt?
I find the stretching, swelling, expanding nature of pregnancy strange at times, difficult to adjust to. It feels as though my body isn’t my own, and I worry it won’t ever be mine again. But I remind myself that I worried about this during my first pregnancy, and when I was breastfeeding, and yet eventually, somewhere in the gap between one journey of pregnancy and feeding ending and this one beginning, it was mine again.
I’ve never once stopped to appreciate it though, and often look back at photos from the past few years and wonder what it was exactly I was so concerned about, at the time. This body of mine was strong and lean in the two years leading up to my wedding, and yet I didn’t give it credit then. It softened in pregnancy and carried a baby girl safely and healthily from womb to earth, and was able to nourish that baby girl’s chubby arms and thighs and cheeks during the first year of her life.
And now to do it all again? It’s a gift, simple as that.
I’m writing this to capture this moment of gratitude and contentment, before it slips away. Commit these happy thoughts to my laptop screen so that I can look back on them in weeks, months, years to come, and remember this season of growth.
And also because it feels good, cathartic in the way that writing often is, to admit to myself how complex this funny old relationship is with my body, my self. I remembering worrying first time around that it meant I wasn’t grateful enough for my pregnancy, or that it meant I was too silly and self absorbed to be a good mother. Madness, of course.
I think it’s normal for our perception of growth to waver and change. Well, it’s my normal anyway, and never more understandable than at a time when our body must expand so fast the skin can mark, crack, and split.
So I’m writing this for my future self, who will look back on these photos one day and wish she hadn’t ever wasted time fretting over her body, and instead wish she’d appreciated this season of life, this six month baby bump, this growth, for all that it is.