Monday, March 19, 2012

Be careful what you wish for

Having one and a half pregnancies behind me, I can say that I am one of those lucky women for whom gestation has been relatively pleasant.  For the most part, I actually like being pregnant. I find it absolutely thrilling to have a new, tiny LIFE growing inside of my body. And in everyday situations, a pregnant girl is kind of a novelty which can draw attention, and let's face it--I'm not generally uncomfortable with positive attention.

The problem is that for the first 3-4 months (at least, depending on her physique) no one can tell a gal is pregnant just by looking. Then for another month or two (or, again, often longer) no one would dare comment or ask for fear of the utter humiliation of being wrong.  So for half or more of my pregnancy, I wish I could wear a T-shirt like this:
I've never had washboard abs or anything, but I take pride in maintaining a fairly slender, athletic figure. So I start feeling "chubby" early in pregnancy.  In the first couple of months, the uterus may not yet have grown higher than my pelvis, but it is pushing everything else up and out.  My uterus pushes up my other organs which in turn push my layer of "soft tissue" (read: fat) which usually conceals itself pretty well by lying flush with the rest of my body out over my pants. So that's why long before people compliment that cute baby bump, I (and presumably many newly pregnant women) am struggling to button my jeans and can't stand to look down when seated.

For several months I pine for my flabby belly to round out and look pregnant so the world will know that I am intentionally knocked up instead of carelessly filling out. Of course my ever-rational husband wonders aloud why it matters what anybody else thinks. A valid query, certainly, and one for which I do not have a rational answer without exploring intense psychoanalysis and social commentary. And this is neither the time nor the place for such nonsense.

About three weeks ago I had three ladies ask me on the same day, in different words, if I was pregnant. These were all members of my Curves who know my pre-pregnancy shape, so they felt comfortable with the assumption.  Pleased that familiar people finally felt comfortable enough to ask, I still would not have expected a stranger to be so bold at that point. I don't mean any offense, but the fact is there are many women who carry the soft tissue around their midsection in much the same way that my abdomen was presently protruding.

Then, I swear over the course of about 48 hours, my belly popped out.  One day a couple of weeks ago I  suddenly looked officially pregnant.  I was thrilled at first to not feel so self-conscious and for maternity-type clothing to not look and feel so awkward. But now I'm wondering if it was too soon. Have I gained too much weight for the halfway point? If my belly is already this big, how uncomfortable will I be four months from now? And I am not so naive to think that the fetus is taking up the entire space in there, so I'm feeling a little bit guilty about the excess girth.

I gained about 60 pounds during my first pregnancy. Thankfully I was able to lose all of that weight, but it did take me 10 months and during the first few I felt very uncomfortable.  My intention was to reign in the weight gain this time around--but then I haven't made any concerted effort to do anything differently. And  at times I found myself rationalizing an extra helping or sweet indulgence with my desire to look pregnant! Can you believe that? I would justify eating more because I wanted my belly to show.

Granted, I love food and struggle with willpower any day of the year. When weight gain and major changes in my physique are as inevitable as in pregnancy, making the choice to limit calories or choices becomes even more challenging and I almost rebel against the idea. There is rarely a drawn out internal monologue, the doireallyneedthisbutyumiwanttoeatitandi'mgoingtogetfatanywayandicanlosetheweightlatersowhat'sthedifference thought process occurs instantaneously. 

I'm enamored by the idea of being one of those adorable pregnant chicks who wears her regular jeans through the seventh month and whose belly you might wager was just a volleyball tucked under her shirt. That just is not me. The question is whether that is due to a pre-determined physiological difference or, more likely, the choices that I make. Could I be one of those skinny preggers? Who knows. Maybe. Probably not. And why does it matter? It doesn't.

When my cylindrical reflection in the mirror mocks that area where a waist used to live, I am a little disappointed in myself.  Right now I've got that cute baby bump I longed for earlier, I'm just afraid it will be way too soon when people start quipping that I must be about to pop.  Or that when someone hears my due date her expression will betray to me her surprise that it's so far away.  Or that I will be miserably, uncomfortably large in three months, give birth to a giant baby (with only my body's natural pain relief mechanisms), or be unable to lose this weight afterward.

But I am aware that I am being unfairly critical and hard on myself. The most important thing in my life right now is nurturing the tiny future person growing inside.  It does no good to concern myself with such vanity. I share these personal feelings with you in case you can relate and wish to share insight or encouragement.


Bridget said...

Haha, well, I gained 54ish pounds with the first and I think almost 50 with the second, DESPITE improved exercise and diet the second time around. So I think your body just gains what it needs to. I don't think I "could" be one of those skinny pregnant girls. It must have more to do with body shape and structure than actual pounds gained. That's my guess, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Is it any consolation that just before delivering, a tape-measure stretched around me to reveal that I was the SAME height and circumfrance? You look amazing, my tall beautiful friend. Keep growing that lovely person.


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