A Loaded Question: Are You Expecting?


“Are you expecting?”

A year after having my son, I was asked this loaded question by an innocent coworker. Her question came as both a shock and a confirmation at the same time. She had seen it too–my protruding stomach–something that I had only experienced twice in my life and both of those times I was, in fact, expecting a child.

I had felt it for days–the weight creeping up–the clothes not fitting correctly–ever since I stopped nursing. But why? I wasn’t expecting I didn’t think.

To be sure, I ran out to the store as soon as the workday ended–and on the walk into the store just for a second, I let myself be excited. What if this was part of my story? My “baby’s” story? Someday I would say, “I had no idea about you until a random coworker asked me, and now here you are.” 

But the minus sign made my thoughts come to a screeching halt. No baby. Not “expecting”–then what? A hormone imbalance? Too much cortisol? Stress? A gluten or dairy intolerance?  

Almost a year later and I am still not clear. I’ve seen my gynecologist and my primary care doctor. I’ve been working with a functional medicine doctor who specializes in hormones and trying different protocols and still no changes. There is at least one time per month where I have to wear baggier clothes–when I fear being asked the dreaded question “am I expecting?”

Are You Expecting_ Charleston MomsI dread this question so much partly because I am sad that I am not and that I may never be again, and partly because I am “expecting.” 

I’m expecting answers.

I’m expecting my body to work right again.

I’m expecting to feel better and to accept this and not feel so frustrated and discouraged Every. Single. Time.  

Body image “stuff” is another part of the mosaic of motherhood. What was once beautiful during pregnancy (that protruding belly) can be a source of pain in our postpartum lives.  Many women try to “get their bodies back”–but the reality is there is no going back. In motherhood, our lives fundamentally change, and it only makes sense that our bodies would reflect those changes. 

Some of us have stretch marks and scars from our c-section. We are warriors with battle wounds. Some of us have a little extra cushion–we are safety nets for our children and have extra padding. Some of us work hard postpartum–workout, eat right–but our bodies will never be “back.”

There is no going back–we have to move forward.  

I don’t have answers yet, but I will continue to seek while practicing self-love, acceptance, and huge heaps of grace. 

I will strive to see myself as beautiful unconditionally–the way my babies see me. I was home to them, and it’s time that I feel home to myself, too–regardless of that scar or stretch mark or confusingly protruding monthly belly.

This is my wish for 2020 for myself and all the mamas who walk this sacred path with me. 

May we love ourselves as fiercely and as consistently and as unconditionally as we love our babies and as they love us. May we accept our bodies just as they are.

May we embrace our journeys as mosaics of beauty and pain.

And may we understand that it is okay not to feel okay and not to have the answers yet–or maybe even ever–that sometimes just living the question is enough.

And today, if I am asked if I am expecting, my response will be yes–but not expecting in the way that you think. I am expecting self-love–regardless of conditions and external factors. Although my body is outwardly manifesting, my real journey this year will be within–and I am expecting that to continue for all of my days. And then I will turn around and say, “That may not have been what you were expecting–but are you expecting, too?”