I catch myself in mirrors or store windows now and I think: My god I am huge. I know, rationally, that I will be so much bigger by the end of this. I see other women on the street who must be nearing their due date, because their bump is twice the size of my bump, and I marvel at one day being as big as they are. How can that be, I think. How can that be?
I don’t have a photo ready because I have been too busy and too tired to take one. Tomorrow I turn 21 weeks, so I promise to get one within 20 weeks that still counts as the 5-month-marker. Next month I’ll do a big mashup. This month we have been traveling and the price I pay for it is much higher than it used to be. Yet another thing I’m learning – but I’m getting off track. Five months, 20 weeks, half way there.
It was sort of fascinating, initially, how my body started to change. I could see that I was pregnant in the beginning, but when I sat down the bump faded. Most people did not at all notice anything had changed and I dressed on purpose to hide any blotation or new roundness – force of habit. Most people at work didn’t even notice until recently. I’ve been getting a lot of, “Woah! Where did that bump come from!” This startles me because I feel like it’s been there for a really long time and it’s just one of the many things that has happened to me physically. The sickness, the discomfort, the new eczema between my eye brows and above my eyes, the acne on the right side of my mouth, the constipation, the gas, the chest acne, the swollen ankles, the weight gain. Some of that was surprising, some of it inevitable, some of it only a possible symptom but I got it all.
A few weeks ago I was standing in front of the mirror looking at myself, maybe getting ready to take a picture, maybe just looking. I don’t remember if I was dressed or in my underwear, but I remember saying something about some physical change. A, “Wow would you look at that!” moment. And then sort of shrugged it off. Or did a dance. Or something. And Kamel commented, while laughing, “You are making a shit ton of lemonade, huh? A lot a lot a lot of lemonade!” He meant out of lemons, you know how that saying hoes, and he wasn’t saying it to be a dick. He was proud of me for not crumbling on the floor in despair over every lump and bump, every new pound gained, every pimple, or lost muscle tone. Because generally that’s what I do – I crumble to the floor. Or at least I did.
I’ve had my share of body discomfort and feeling like my body was against me. I felt that way since I was in junior high, all the way up until my mid 20s. All those years I was working really hard to figure it out. How do I just keep even? How do I maintain my weight instead of yo-yo-ing? Where is the balance between consistency and feeling proud and happy about my body? This is an incredibly personal figure/number/size/experience. I don’t think there is one right answer in life, just a right answer for me. Success in the fight on negative body image happens, in my world, when I stop constantly thinking about it. When it doesn’t define what I see when I happen to pass by a mirror. It’s when I no longer rush to the bathroom first thing when I get inside a building to make sure nothing has gone astray between then and leaving my house. It’s not trying on everything in my closet because suddenly nothing fits.
But now I’m pregnant and expanding by the day, the hour, the moment. I went from working out 4 days a week to working out no days a week. The best I can muster is a walk to the train every day and long walks on the weekends, rarely in the evenings after work. I feel like all I have been doing is surviving.
- Get to work without being so car sick I have to pull over on the side of the highway, or stop the car 30 minutes walk away from work because I can’t take the motion for one more second.
- Get through work so that I walk the 20 minutes to the train at the end of the day and hope I have enough energy to actually make dinner, actually eat dinner, maybe run 1 errand, or maybe just sprawl on the couch until 8pm when I crawl into bed.
- Hope that I don’t wake up more than twice to pee in the middle of the night, hope that I don’t wake up with the urge to puke at midnight, hope I don’t wake up with acid filling my mouth from reflux.
Those are my big agenda items, everything else is extra. But sometimes I feel like that is a failure. I still want to be able to do it all, even when I can’t.
And this discussion really has nothing at all to do with baby. Baby is healthy and swimming around. He made my stomach lurch so violently yesterday that I almost cried from the weirdness that is seeing my stomach move independent of me. Dude is just fine. This is me talking about me.
So lemonade. Is this lemonade? Because from what I can see I’m just finding new places to store the lemons. I know that some women love their pregnant bodies, but I don’t like mine. My hips have gained inches of fat (and no, they are not just widening, but bless your heart for thinking it), in the last week – week and a half I have finally started to see more than just a bump… my arms are puffy, my face is gaining weight now, my legs are not as strong as they used to be, my ankles are thickening. I realize that these things happen. If you gain almost 20 lbs, like I have, in 5 months, this happens. It’s pregnancy, and I can look at myself and say, “not permanent.” But I do not like what I see. I don’t like the changes. I liked how I was before.
Rationally I know that this is all for a good cause. Baby! Yay baby! Last week at work I was coming out of the bathroom and I wanted to do an excited little jump hippity-hop over the idea of getting to have a baby. I thought, “Oooooo! I just wish I could have him right now!” It’s true, and it’s really exciting to think about getting to make and keep a baby. He’s in there, poking me, doing flips, waiting until he’s ready for his big TA DA! entrance. And I think that’s the real lemonade. It has nothing to do with my not crumbling to the ground over lumps and bumps. Because, really? Lumps and bumps? Cry me a fucking river, Lauren… so what you don’t like what you see in the mirror right now? So What.
And until Gabe’s big finish I’ll be here collecting the lemons, putting them in baskets, storing them in out-of-the-way places so we don’t accidentally trip over one. Trying not to throw up in the brand new car, getting through my work day, successfully avoiding an over abundance of ice cream and cheetos, catching as much sleep as I can and peeing every 30 minutes. Because what else is there, really?