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By Christina Farrell

The size of my jeans used to determine my self-esteem. The shape of my body represented my deepest insecurities. A taut tummy signified my need for approval, while a muffin top indicated I’d been drowning my sorrows with food. For years, my fluctuating weight determined my self-worth. Hypocritically, I’d tout a different message. “Beauty is not defined by a dress size,” I’d say, exalting the splendor of women in all shapes and sizes. Somehow, I was unable to see beauty in myself.

Then, last year, a week after Mother’s Day, I finally figured out what authentic beauty was. On May 16th, 2011, I gave birth to and subsequently lost my daughter during my fifth month of pregnancy. During my pregnancy, I gleefully packed on 30 pounds, feeling plump and beautiful. My extraordinary weight gain became a thing of humor. I called myself the clumsy walrus on a daily basis.

For the first time in my life, the weight gain represented something wonderful. My wobbly bits and jiggly parts were bursting with mommy-to-be pride. Yes, I had the prized pregnancy glow. And yet, the day after I lost Mia, my newly round body symbolized loss. I was trapped in a larger body that was a constant reminder of the emptiness that surrounded me. What was once 30 pounds of pregnancy jubilation was now a daily memento of grief.

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