I should have taken more belly pictures when I was pregnant. I took the requisite picture of my belly every week for 40 weeks. But what I mean is, I should have taken some naked belly pictures when I was pregnant. 

Demi Moore did it on the cover of Vanity Fair. Claudia Schiffer did it on the cover of Vogue. Britney Spears did it… Well, let’s not get carried away. I wouldn’t do it just because she did it. Or because any of those ladies did it.

When any of those celebs posed pregnant and naked for the covers of different magazines, I never really gave it any thought. Except for “Damn, she looks really good.” Well, yeah. Of course <insert celebrity name here> looks great naked even when she’s eight months pregnant. Because she’s a celebrity or a supermodel. Duh. Because photoshop

I think it was sometime around 13 weeks pregnant where I finally looked in the mirror and could tell that I was pregnant. There was finally a definite bump there; I didn’t just look like a busted can of biscuits. And over the next few months as my belly got rounder and my boobs got more plump, I began to love my body.

For the first time in my life, I could look in the mirror and study the curves and mounds of my body with pride. I was getting bigger, but my body was doing exactly what it was meant to be doing to make sure my baby would grow and be healthy. I felt womanly. And strong. And soft. And sexy. 

Sure, as the months went by, I made jokes about not being able to see my toes and having to buy bras in a bigger VOWEL size… But I didn’t worry about what size pants I wore or how much weight I gained.

For the first time in my life, I was comfortable in my own skin. (As comfortable as you can be when you’re being kicked in the ribs by your little bundle of joy.) I didn’t care what I looked like. Yes, I had big boobs. Yes, I had an enormous belly. I was supposed to. 

And… I was beautiful.

My husband told me that I was beautiful constantly when I was pregnant, but I didn’t listen. I could hardly admit to myself that I was ok with how I looked, let alone that I thought I looked… (Gasp!) beautiful!

My husband still tells me that I look beautiful now, but I still don’t listen. I’m struggling with a body that lost all the baby weight but is still lingering somewhere between maternity clothes that are getting to be too big (but elastic waistbands are my friends!) and my pre-baby stuff which I’m not always 100% comfortable in yet.

Somewhere between bringing the baby home from the hospital and teething, I let my fleeting “I am beautiful!” attitude slip away. Where did that beautiful mama-to-be go? 

I wish I would have taken pictures of my pregnant, naked body so that I could remember how I looked. To remember how I felt. The woman that I briefly thought looked stunning and voluptuous has been replaced by a tired, anxious, uncomfortable shadow of herself.

When I look in the mirror, I’m quick to criticize myself. My belly is soft, my boobs are big and awkward. I often wonder if I’ll ever feel comfortable wearing anything than yoga pants and loose-fitting t-shirts again. 

But then… I see the way my son’s face lights up when he sees me come around a corner. I see the way his eyes follow me around the room, or how he looks for me when he hears my voice. I feel my husband reaching for me under the covers at night. No matter how I may feel about myself, he still tells me I’m beautiful. 

And for those few seconds, no matter what I’m wearing or how tired I am, I’m that beautiful woman all over again. 

I just wish I didn’t feel like I needed a picture to remember that