I've been watching the second season of Girls, and I often think of Lena Dunham when I catch a glimpse of that photo. I think about the scene where she plays ping pong in nothing but her undies. How calm she looks. She's of a younger generation than me -- the generation that lets everything hang out on Facebook, and that doesn't seem to put much value in privacy. But, even so, her bravery is palpable. She is not a simple exhibitionist. She's a bit of a radical. She's daring the world to judge her: her body, her comfort with that body, and her commitment to realism.
My belly shot was taken at the end of my pregnancy with Ruby by Julia Smith, a talented photographer and a good friend. She offered to do a shoot of me with Bella, who was 18 or 19 months at the time. Julia usually points her camera at my kids, not at me. Her photos are displayed in frames all around my home. But the pictures from that particular photo shoot never made it beyond contact sheets, which to this day are sitting in a box.
I wasn't comfortable with how I looked in them. Being pregnant didn't make me feel beautiful. It made me feel huge (and as you can see, I was). I've never been an exhibitionist, and I've never been one to enjoy my own image in photos. (At our wedding, we didn't have a videographer: I've never liked seeing myself on film, either.) Also, I would never normally let myself be photographed without a shirt on. The result, Julia's talents notwithstanding, was something I wanted to keep in a box.
And yet, that belly photo graces the top of my blog. I've been feeling more sensitive about that as my blog has attracted attention this past week from people well beyond the confines of the pregnancy-and-birth community. (And lots of rabbis!)
I chose the picture because I couldn't think of a more apt image to illustrate the reality of becoming a parent: the physical enormity of growing a baby, of waiting forty weeks (or, like me, 41) to meet the person whom you made. But instead of choosing a picture of a baby, I chose a picture of me, the mother. Because this blog is really about her. It is personal, and it's real. It's about the way life is, not the way I might want it to be. It takes bravery to write that way, and I am trying to be brave.
Thank you, Julia, for capturing a moment in time that I can never get back.
And thank you, Lena, for getting me to take the photos out of the box.