Jessica Simpson is my pregnancy idol.
Why is that, you may ask? Well, frankly, it’s because she posts photos like this when she is pregnant:
Listen, not only did Simpson caption this photo, “Jess-station,” which is pretty much comedic genius, people (get it, like for gestation?) but the image speaks volumes to any pregnant person who has ever experienced a pregnancy that was downright miserable. I mean, even in looking at this photo, I feel Simpson’s pain quite literally. She is swollen and miserable and even her boobs look like they can’t possibly take one more square inch of skin stretching any larger.
It’s a pain that I know quite acutely; I felt this exact same way during my 4th pregnancy when I had complications due to polyhydramnios and I was so, so miserable in my own skin. The mere act of existing hurt me and that’s not an exaggeration. I cried so much during that pregnancy and in some ways, I felt very alone. Like, everyone knows pregnancy can be kind of hard, right? Everyone knows that pregnant women complain about swollen feet and aching backs and just feeling downright huge, right? So my complaints were nothing to really take seriously. Except I didn’t feel like I was a “normal” pregnant woman–I felt so deeply, acutely uncomfortable that I doubted everything in life, from myself as a mother to even having this baby.
It was an experience that is hard to explain, but when I look at this picture of Simpson, I know the girl gets it. She looks exactly how I felt. Like she is done with being pregnant. And Simpson has been open throughout all of her three pregnancies about how freaking hard pregnancy is on her body–I can remember seeing her unabashedly huge on Ellen in that infamous white dress and back then, I developed mad props for her. Here’s a celebrity who isn’t sugarcoating the hard parts about pregnancy and that’s a beautiful thing.
Unfortunately, however, I saw more than one person cite that Simpson’s openness in sharing her pregnancy photos along the way was “brave,” which, quite frankly, rubbed me the wrong way. What, pray tell, is “brave” about any woman just sharing her own truth about pregnancy? It’s like we want women to only discuss pregnancy when it’s beautiful and glowy and thin-with-just-a-cute-baby-bump and anything that differs from that narrative should be hidden in the shadows.
So, nope, I’m calling this one BS–Simpson isn’t “brave” for showing what real swollen feet or boobs or bellies look like during pregnancy. That’s just the reality for many of us and the fact that I can see her photos and recognize my own misery feels like a downright victory. She’s not brave for simply living her life through pregnancy and she’s not brave for sharing that; she’s just a regular mom with a regular miserable pregnancy who still manages to be happy and grateful for the chance to be a mom again.
The bravery, frankly, is for Simpson and all of the women like her who know how difficult pregnancy is going to be–and do it anyways. Through the barfing and the exhaustion and the swelling and the bed rest and the weight gain and the boobs that have veins that look like they could supply blood to a small country and of course, the whole giving birth pain and recovery–it’s downright amazing that anyone reproduces again. But we do it because we know that the reward is worth it and all and we do it because we are brave in the face of hardship, because we want what’s best for our kids.
So, Jessica Simpson may not be “brave” for simply sharing her pregnancy truth, but I, for one, am grateful that she did, because it helps to make me brave when I am faced with my own difficult pregnancies. And as I head into the summer pregnant with baby #5, when I know, without a doubt, that I will see Simpson’s swelling and raise her by at least two gallons of fluid in my feet, that it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be pretty.
But I also know that it will be totally worth it. After all, Simpson “bravely” proved that too: