Before I developed chronic pain I didn’t struggle much with body image issues. I was surrounded by strong friends who were super body-positive. I was also very athletic and that fostered a lot of love and trust between me and my body.
I developed chronic pain 2 1/2 years ago after being hit by a car on my bicycle. Having chronic pain has limited my ability to be athletic to very very gentle movement, and for this and other reasons my body changed a LOT. I lost most of my muscle mass and that wonderful feeling of adrenaline you get when your heart gets going. Even if my body hadn’t changed physically I would have developed body image issues; having chronic pain can cause one to feel that their body has betrayed them. Just being in pain all the time caused me to develop a lot of anger and grief towards my body. Further, I wanted to get pregnant and couldn’t. It took a lot of work and self-care to get off the pain meds and feel strong enough to try.
When I WAS able to get pregnant with my partner I felt like I would never have body image issues again! I felt that if I could make a baby with this body then I would only feel love and gratitude towards it. For the most part, that is what I have felt! But I’ve also learned that it’s just normal to have these ambivalent feelings arise during pregnancy. Most recently, now that I am 37 weeks pregnancy, I’ve developed stretch marks that I’m really struggling with. I have good days and bad days… days I feel acceptance and happiness about the changes in my body and days when I feel ugly and upset and unhappy. It’s awesome to see the diversity of bodies and stories on this website. The more I am able to see images like these and hear these stories the more validated I feel. I see how lovely everyone is and I can turn that feeling on myself.
Thanks for reading my story! These pictures are all of my at present, 37 weeks along.