39 weeks…and crazy happened

by Janelle Hanchett

The other day, I looked in the mirror as I was getting in the shower and I saw myself, 39 weeks pregnant, huge and round.

I saw breasts nearly resting on an enormous belly.

I saw the stripes racing down its curve.

I saw the layer of fat beneath the belly, the hips. I saw enormous thighs.

And for the first time in my life, I saw something beautiful.

No, I saw something absolutely fucking gorgeous.

And I’m not talking about some mind candy bullshit self-talk. I’m talking about reality, a sudden, unexpected shift in what I saw.

My own eyes.

For some reason, I saw beauty. Real beauty.

I saw the belly I’ve been ashamed of and the untamable breasts and the thighs that are too thick, and I thought to myself “Gorgeous.” A smile moved across my face. So unexpected, to see that after all these years of shrouded disgust. I saw something else, it was as if my eyes saw the same but my brain and heart saw something new, so foreign.

The round was lovely, its curve so powerful and determined and soft.

The deep lines of stretched skin that came when I was 22 and pregnant with my first baby, reinforced and redrawn and recreated a second, third and fourth time. The pain and transformation and power of each stripe, I saw.

The round that holds my heart and life and new life. My own line to my own mom once, now wrapped around the unknown. Soon to be known, or sort of known, dear unborn child. My last child.

It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, so I’ll show you, too.

The belly.

But really, the face. There’s a look of pride on that face, on the face of a woman who gained 60 pounds instead of the “proper” 25-35 (25 for a woman of my weight!), who has been ashamed of herself and her body, thinking her husband was just so full of shit when he looked at her and smiled with joy and adoration, maybe a quick tear, “You’re just so cute.”

I usually want to punch him in the face. Because his adoration mocked my self disdain. Maybe not anymore. Maybe I see what he sees. Not “cute,” I don’t see cute and probably never will, but I see beauty that almost never ends, that touched me days before the belly will end, the curve, its roundness, only the stripes to remain and remember.

I don’t know why it took this long to see, but I’ve seen it now, and I’ll never doubt again.

It may not be truth for anybody else, and it certainly isn’t for society, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the truth for me, now.

And I caught it, just in the nick of time.

This is where I am, 39 weeks. gorgeous, miserable, ready.

change is always within. always.

change is always within. always.

P.S. Dear baby, if you’re listening, I would just like to clarify that just because I suddenly and inexplicably find my huge belly “beautiful,” I’d also be TOTALLY INTO IT if you, like, exited that belly. As much as I enjoy your head sitting so low in my pelvis I can barely walk or sit, and the uterine contractions that keep me up all night (but don’t produce an actual baby) and peeing 1500 times a day, and all the other joys of this glorious period of my life, I’d enjoy smelling your breath a whole lot more and we’re all really, really fucking excited to meet you. (Did I just swear at my unborn baby?)

Speaking of talking to unborn babies, my midwives told me to “talk to my baby” to help coax him or her out. So a few hours later, I was inspired. I looked down at my belly and said “Hey there little one. FYI, only assholes stay in past their due dates.” Not totally sure that’s exactly what they had in mind, but shit. It’s all I had at the moment.

Due date is June 3.

Don’t be an asshole.


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Hello, I’m Lindsey ConnellTense-and-Urgent

I live in Toronto with my husband and two kids, 4 1/2 and 2. They’re bananas and of course I’m wild about them. I am an actor, screenwriter, filmmaker and short story writer. All fun activities to do at home in a room by yourself with your cats, a mirror, and cigarettes by your side. A year ago I started Tense and Urgent because my cats/cigarettes had been replaced by children (not all at once) and because of the ensuing sleep deprivation, my ability to think of any story longer than a paragraph was seriously taxed. But one-liners or captions for drawings, I could do. And painting and drawing while listening to “This American life” became kind of the perfect way to spend my time.

Christmas-Sweater-764x1024 My work deals mostly with relationship stuff, parenting, existential dread… life stuff. And the tiny moments in a person’s life when something clicks or shifts- when a realization comes or something is professed. Often the people in my work are staring straight into the middle distance, caught in an epiphany. But there’s humour there, too. And lightness. It’d be a big drag if my cards made people feel lonelier, sadder, and dumpier than they did before they saw them, but they are called “Tense and Urgent” so that was fair warning, I think.

This website and blog are still evolving. I hope to start adding different elements to this website eventually. Short films, small animated pieces, postcard fictions. Stay tuned.

  • LisaC

    I’m jealous. I never got to that point and in fact, I was absolutely furious the whole time I was pregnant at 38 with unexpected #4. However.

    She has become the lovely, amazing, unexpected surprise I didn’t know I wanted. No NEEDED in my life. She’ amazing and sweet and happy and looking back, I WISH I’d been happy and proud and loving my last pregnancy.

    Good for you and positive vibes for a healthy, easy delivery.

  • Kayla

    I have been waiting and waiting to hear news of the new baby. Glad your due date is right around the corner. I cannot wait to see pictures of that cute little boy or girl (i think boy for some reason). I am totally invested in your life, a total stranger that get’s me! Knock em dead on June 3rd, or sooner hopefully. You are beautiful!! Everything about bringing a child into this world is beautiful.

  • Stephanie

    My birthday is June 1. It’s totally a great day to be born. And huge kudos to you for seeing what I missed in both of my pregnancies but can see now in others.

  • Jen S

    I too suddenly found myself beautiful while pregnant/postpartum with baby #4. I spent so many years loathing & trying to destroy this body. I was surprised as hell to pass the mirror one day & have the word “beautiful” just pop into my head.

  • itzybellababy

    Love the belly. I really enjoyed being pregnant until the last couple of weeks, when I could barely walk because my almost 12 pound baby was breaking my hips.. lol. I kind of wish I had taken more belly pictures. I got SO big at the end there. (bed rest)
    Beautiful mama!


    ps- your blog told me I was posting comments too fast. Weird.

  • Alecia

    I tend to be very self conscious. It seems all of my friends are petite size fours. I’ve always felt like the fat one. I also tend to feel awkward about clothing and makeup and hair. These were things I think my mother never really knew about, so she certainly didn’t pass it along to me. I usually don’t even bother. So I feel quite plain next to my friends with makeup and hair done and designer shoes. But a couple weeks ago, I went out with one of those friends. For some absurd reason I decided to do karaoke for the first time. And no, I wasn’t drunk. And as I stood there getting ready to sing, a girl from a group seated at a nearby table says,”she’s so pretty.” Now they were all definitely drunk, and I know I shouldn’t nessesarily believe the words of a drink stranger, but for some reason I did. And I do. Not all the time now, like it was the shing epiphany of my life, but sometimes when I’m brushing my teeth or trying to tame my hair. I see something pretty. Sometimes the reflection is does not automatically think of what I would change or what I’m disappointed in. I think I can deal with sometimes.

  • Sharon B Perpignani

    This almost made me cry. I wish you could give that moment to every pregnant woman that ever was, ever will be.

    Noticing each distinct part of it: the sumptuous weight, the attending lines, the gaze of stunning beauty.

    Because, as we know, it’s all downhill after that, bwuahahahaha!

    Best of everything to you and the gang on your special day, can’t wait to hear about it in your *very* special way.

  • Cara Lyn

    You are stunning. Seriously. I can’t wait to not touch your belly and hold “my” baby. xxxx

  • Brett


    You ARE gorgeous. Glad you saw it. And I’m glad you wrote this.

    I’m a birth doula, and have been with loads of birthing mamas, and I TELL you… there is a moment in each and every one of their births where I have been bowled over, smacked-in-the-face, by how utterly gorgeous they are. Absolutely without concern, thought, distraction, ego, I dunno, their beauty just shines. “Shines” is the wrong word (so is “glows”, both are too cliche somehow). I can’t do it justice with words, but something becomes visible that’s elemental, something raw and honest and true. Doesn’t matter how much weight they’ve gained (or not) or how clear their skin is, or any of that visible bullshit. And it doesn’t even have to do with the empowerment of birth, the inner lioness stuff. It’s even more basic than that. I always get a little teary-eyed when I see women like this, and try and point their incredible-ness out to their partners, so they can see, too. But they’re usually rapt, so I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing. Of course, the mamas are so absolutely unconcerned with how they look at that moment (they could give a rats ass and would probably tell me to go to hell if I pointed it out).

    It sure would be nice if we all caught a glimpse of ourselves like this! And not just when we’re pushing babies out of our vaginas!!!

    Anyway, BEST of luck with your birth and your newest bambino. <3

  • Tina

    You’ve GOT to watch this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCO-YmLT8t4

    I wish you a beautiful birth and soon! Lots of love from Austria xxx

  • JeniQ

    What an honest and beautiful post – i loved reading it. Approaching 39 weeks myself (with my first child), I wish I could say that I’ve been feeling beautiful. But every change is new and a little terrifying, and I can’t help but to look at the extra fat and girth in distain. I’m hoping that I’ll reach a new level of understanding in my next pregnancy after having gone through the process already, like yourself. It must be so good to feel how you’re feeling now.. congrats 🙂

  • Emily

    Gorgeous! The belly, the joy, the glow. Keep posting! I’m new to your page and had started really hating blogs, despite reading them every morning while drinking my coffee, yet stumbled across yours via facebook. I love your raw, no bullshit honesty. Stay beautiful, happy and free! All good thoughts and love to you in your last phase of growing that baby. 😀

  • Jackie in Calgary

    Hey yo, that’s MY birthdate! A beautiful day to be born, and not be an a-hole.
    I’m truckin’ along at 33 weeks with my 2nd, and I have the same feeling about a week ago. No adoration from the husband though, he doesn’t say much or notice much in that way. But I’m with ya.
    Good luck in the next week!

  • Heather Hull

    Thank you for writing this.. I cried a happy cry….you reminded me to be proud of what I am as a result of what I have created…. I am fucking amazing….. I created three perfect little lives inside me….. and even on those days when I don’t love myself, they do….unconditionally…And that is beautiful too…

  • Hettie

    Awww, such a pretty baby bump! Really, no sarcasm!

    I remember being 39 weeks with my now 10 year old– seeing those railraod tracks across my stomach and… not really being all that upset about it. Now that my stomach is like an overstretched balloon, it’s a bit annoying. But, the kids that resulted usually help me get over myself.

    Here’s to a quick and painless and SOON delivery!!

  • Heather Holter

    Beautiful words! There is something to be said of the beauty of a fully pregnant woman. My last pregnancy was twins, and the very day I gave birth, I remember marveling in all my pregnant glory wondering with laughter just how much bigger I would become. Then my water broke an hr later and I had those georgeous twins nearly 6 weeks early! I am so very glad I took the time that night to admire my awesome pregnant self in the mirror! I nearly missed it!

  • Kateri Von Steal

    You are STUNNING! And you look so damn happy! I am so excited for you!

    I can’t wait to read about that baby exiting and making it’s first appearance!

    🙂 I’m so happy for you.

  • Kellie

    Love this post!! I’ve just recently began following your blog and I’m so glad I did. Good luck to you this week!! Come on baby…don’t be an asshole! Oh…you probably are the only one that can call your baby an asshole right? OK, sorry. Come on baby, mama and the rest of the family are waiting!

  • jenn

    You look gorgeous. 🙂

    I hope #4 doesn’t act all asshole-ish by camping out past the due date! Good luck!

  • nicole

    Awesome! I love that you’re embracing it all. More women need to see that they are truly beautiful… even after kids.
    I mean, really, look what we do: we make humans!

  • Anne-Marie K

    “I see beauty that almost never ends….”

    That line takes my breath away. Beautiful words, gorgeous mama—

    Looking forward to “meeting” your little one—Welcome to earth, Baby!

  • Mel

    So, so beautiful!! Loved the distinction between mind candy bullshit self-talk and reality too. Right on.

  • shane

    I just had my baby May 4th, and I can completely relate to all of this – even down to my husband commenting on how great I looked. Have fun with your summer baby! 🙂

  • julronimo

    That is one lucky baby person!

  • Brandi

    Go you! I am pregnant as well and I’ve started to feel the exact same way. It only took 5 pregnancies to totally embrace it and feel empowered. ..but I’m glad I finally came around. I’m frickin’ huge, and I’ve got all summer to go. Yikes. Best of luck to you with your delivery!

  • melzie

    I see that beauty 🙂 I am so glad you got to see it too. Here’s to the days passing quickly for you until baby arrives, then let’s slow time down, for those newborn days are gone in a blur of sleeplessness and exhaustion. <3

  • Sara Howard


  • Stephanie

    Hey! What the hell’s wrong with clipart?? Enjoy that baby belly…for however long it lasts BUHAHAHAHAHA (In other words, spit out the kid. Can’t wait to see him.)

  • sarina

    I struggled with anorexia my entire second pregnancy. My baby is now three months old, and thriving. You are a goddess. A beautiful gift to all your readers. You inspire me.

  • Wendy

    Gorgeous pic Mamma! I love your blog – that is all 🙂

  • Nicole

    This is beautiful – probably the most cliché thing I could write, but it put a smile on my face, and next time my partner tells me that he likes my “curves” I wont’ hit him (as hard).

    I’ll be checking in on the 3rd. And although I’m not married and don’t have any kids, reading your blog gives me hope I can continue to live in chaos.

  • laura

    You are gorgeous! Your blog has saved me!!! First time mama thinking I had it all wrong, till I stumbled upon you!!! Keep on keepin on pretty mama!! You amaze me! Love your words!!! Hope you meet your new one soon!!!

  • Allison

    You know, it’s funny, I always think other pregnant women are beautiful…no matter what. Just knowing first hand what they are doing, having to endure…the sacrifices they are making… But I never felt that way about myself during either of my 2 pregnancies. Wish I did though. Looking forward to reading about little one in the coming months.

  • Bridgette

    This post made me smile so big that my kids gave me funny looks. You are amazing, beautiful and I admire the hell out of you. Can’t wait to see pictures of that beautiful baby. Happy pushing!

  • Emily

    I love this! Wonderful. I’m so happy you got a moment like that.

  • Johnf315

    Enjoyed studying this, very good stuff, regards . A man may learn wisdom even from a foe. by Aristophanes. kbgdekgedced

  • Rachael

    This is so awesome. I never made it to the point of feeling ‘gorgeous’. Pregnancy was not exactly my favorite time in my life, though the after effects were awesome. Obviously, with a two year old now in tow and I love her to pieces! You look beautiful, hope that baby comes soon, if he/she hasn’t already made their debut!

  • LaToya

    I will drink to realizing you are truly beautiful! Us women are entirely too hard on ourselves!

    (I grunt or turn my face up when my husband compliments me too.)

  • Aria Alpert Adjani

    i just came across your absolutely awesome (and I never use that word but it just seems perfect) badass site. so looking forward to following your thoughts. bravo.

  • Kirsten

    About this time last year I took a nearly naked photo of my very big pregnant body. AND I LOVE IT! I’m tall, plus sized, and very round at 38 weeks – he came 6/18. Great post 🙂

  • Carolina

    I read this to my husband – the don’t be an asshole part, as my baby had to be induced because it just didn’t want to come out…and hubby was calling it an a-hole for taking too long. LOL.

  • Emilie

    God Janelle, you hit a tough spot here.

    After reading the fifth line of this post, I started crying and could not stop. Tears are still coming down my cheeks as I write this.

    I am 38 weeks pregnant with my second girl and my due date is June 16th. I realize how long I still have to go with my body image issues when I see how much I cry just by reading your words. I’ll try to see myself with your eyes next time I come accross a mirror.

    Good luck with your birth. I hope it goes smoothly and I wish myself the same. Because I am fucking exhausted!

  • Momtothree

    Hey J, yesterday should have been the day. I’ve had you on my mind all day today, so I’m thinking maybe baby came today, and I’m picking up on new arrival vibes.
    I am happy that you had this realization. I have just this one pic from my three pregnancies, of myself standing near a window naked, and my baby bump is in silhouette. It *is* still so amazing, this baby growing miracle that takes place inside us.
    I hope the birth went well, hon. Can’t wait to read about it …
    Sending love, and welcome to the new person.

  • Temptress Mama

    You ARE gorgeous! Your eyes and your smile in that picture just make you radiate true beauty so good on you for finally letting yourself see what I’m sure your husband and kids see everyday! I know it’s totally cliche, but what’s in a person’s heart is what will shine on the outside and make them beautiful or ugly. Take my dad’s fiance for instance. That bitch gets her hair blown out once a week and has perfectly manicured nails, always wears makeup and is always “done up” to perfection. That bitch? She be hideous in my eyes. She’s just not a nice person. Total stepmother from hell. And then there’s me. I would be called pretty or cute by some, but I am truly gorgeous to my husband. He thinks I’m stunning. Even when I was almost 10 months pregnant with our son and even before that when I had this hideous rash all over my torso called pityriasis rosea (it’s a fancy name for ugly blotchy spots that doctors can’t “treat” and that “go away on their own” for no known reason). He thinks I’m the sexiest thing on the planet even when my hair is a rat’s nest and I’m in my pink bathrobe and no makeup. I usually look in the mirror and think I’m scary looking, or at least hardly attractive.

    I had body issues as a teen. I was too skinny and had no boobs until I was 16. I hated my body. I hated the way I looked because I felt I looked like a little girl, not a young woman guys would fall over themselves for. My best friend (you would know her as the awesome talent behind Violetminded) would read my Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul entries and write “how can you not like your body? You’re GORGEOUS” and I would shrug and thank her but never truly believe it.

    We women have seriously messed up views of ourselves!

    Here’s the truth. You are awesome! You’re smart, funny, insightful, and just as sarcastic as I am. You have a twisted sense of humor, which I admire. You aren’t afraid to call people out on their bullshit or to mock the idiots of the babycenter world. I love that about you and this blog. You’re also fucking beautiful and I can’t wait for your next post because I’m hoping there will be pictures of a glowing mother holding her new baby. I think that is going to be the most beautiful thing there is <3

    Good luck in your birth (though you don't need it; you got this, mama!)


  • Tillie

    It’s like I’ve been walking through life without your blog missning something… and today, I found it. And all is right with the world.

    HOWEVER, I just laughed and laughed reading your “Don’t let me ever have another kid ever post” from… 2011. I see that didn’t go as planned… 🙂

    Congrats on your #4. I will continue to read the previous post as mine is about to turn 3 and all my friends are getting knocked up…

  • Natasha Batsford

    This probably sounds stupid but being pregnant was the only time that my body felt like it “made sense”.

  • Roxy

    Super glad that I am not the only one who inappropriately swears at their fetus! Also love the comment policy.