The first half of pregnancy is a strange time for so many reasons. Your body is going through so many changes and yet no one notices them but you. During this second pregnancy my body has transformed rather quickly and at only 16 weeks I have–what seems to me–a very noticeable baby bump. And yet, no one else seems to notice it.
It’s funny. We spend so much time obsessing about what our bodies look like, assuming that everyone else is as aware of the weight we’ve gained and lost as we are. And then when our bodies are changing quickly and significantly, and we want others to notice (at least I do), no one seems to.
Of course, some people might suspect, and not say anything. I know I was taught to NEVER assume a woman was pregnant, let alone have the presumption to ask them, so I don’t expect others to just ask me, especially when I look like I do now. People who don’t know what I normally look like could easily assume I just carry my extra weight in my stomach (which is always the case). At the same time I’m surprised when others who DO know me, who have seen me wear all kinds of different clothes, aren’t absolutely certain that I’m pregnant, especially when I wear certain things. I was wearing a maxi dress that I think totally accentuates my budding bump the other day when I ran into a colleague. I didn’t realize that she was not at the luncheon where I announced my pregnancy and so I mentioned it in passing and she was so shocked, like genuinely surprised. And I thought to myself, really? You walk past me every day and never suspected? You just thought I was getting this fat?
Because honestly, right now I look FAT. I feel fat. I’m not complaining. I know it’s worth it. And it doesn’t really bother me (well MOST of the time it doesn’t bother me). I’m eager for my bump to grow from the ambiguous blob of fat it is now into a discernible, round baby bump. By then I’ll be able to feel this baby on a daily basis, something that will bring me much relief from anxiety.
Right now it’s just a mound of fat. It feels like fat when I touch it. It moves like fat when provoked. It’s basically the 10+ pounds I gained in the first trimester as I ate constantly to keep my nausea and vomiting at bay. It jiggles and dimples under pressure. It doesn’t look like a bump unless I wear a belly band–which I do religiously, whether I “need” to or not. The belly band helps mold my fat into something that at least resembles a bump. It also keeps the jiggling to an acceptable amount.
Last time I was pregnant I gained 55 pounds. My daughter was born two weeks early and weighed nine pounds. She would have been 11 pounds if I’d delivered at 40 weeks. I don’t want to gain that kind of weight again, not because I fear what it will do to my own body–I’ve already lived through that–but because I don’t want to have another giant child. A nine pound baby did serious damage to my lady bits; sex will likely never be a completely pleasurable experience again. Which is fine, but I’d rather prevent it from getting worse in the future.
I’m trying to watch what I eat, not giving myself carte blanche because I’m pregnant. I’m also trying to keep working out, which is something I hardly did at all when I was pregnant the first time. Just last night I went to a new exercise class that I bought a voucher for months ago. The voucher expires in a month and I wanted to try out the five classes I had the opportunity to go to before it ran out. The class was listed as a pilates/yoga fusion class but it was way more intense than that; there were aerobics and even kickboxing! But I kept up and the instructor marveled at how well I did for both a first time student and a pregnant one at that.
I realized last night that I felt pretty good, both physically and emotionally, during and after class. Last night was a reminder of how much my body can do, even as it’s changing so rapidly, even as it takes a shape that feels thick, bulky and unfamiliar. I am still strong, and I want to remain strong. I remember the abject fear I felt about the prospect of undertaking the most intense physical feat of my life (labor) when my body was the most out of shape it had ever been. I don’t want to feel that way this time. I want to keep exercising until I can’t anymore. I have an elliptical at home and classes purchased at the yoga studio near by. Spring is here and summer is coming; I can go on walks and hikes even if I can’t run (I wouldn’t feel comfortable running, mostly because of my gargantuan breasts). My body is changing and mostly I’m thrilled for the change. I can’t wait for my bump to grow. I can’t wait to feel my baby to moving inside me. The coming months of pregnancy are the ones I enjoy the most and I’m eager for them to arrive.
In the meantime, as I wait impatiently, inhabiting this body that feels fat and frumpy and foreign, I need to keep moving, to remind myself that I’m still strong and that I can stay strong, if I just invest the time and energy in myself.