Editor's Note: As you may know from previous posts, I'm currently pregnant with kiddo #2. In celebration of all the ways my life will never be the same, I'm starting a series exploring the not-so-glamarous side of pregnancy. Since I've been huge and hormonal in the hottest season of the year, you can pretty much expect an all-out attack on Eve, Mother Nature and stretch marks (#sorrynotsorry). This first post is one I wrote early on when I was just 10 weeks pregnant. To those among us who have done or are doing the important work growing humans, this one's for you. xo
It is an otherwise normal day. After completing my daily carpool routine, I mosey home to enjoy the best parts of the morning: a long shower and a quiet house. My favorite jeans call out to me from the closet - the ones gifted to me by my sister-in-law last year with the perfect fit and dark wash and off-colored knee patch I love. And since they are comfortable, (and perfect in their own right), I happily oblige, stepping into them with my signature wiggle, twist, and hop, which gets them only halfway up my thighs.
It is happening. Again. I am just 10 weeks pregnant, and already my body is in the early stages of rebellion.
Understand, this is not my first rodeo. I have an adorable two-year-old who was born at a whopping 7 pounds 15 ounces. I gained a total of about 40 pounds throughout my first pregnancy (due in part to the fact that I ate a chocolate glazed donut every day of my third trimester), so I know how this works. Gaining weight is part of the process. So too are the widening hips, nausea, stretch marks, hormone changes, acne outbreaks, ligament stretching, incessant peeing and basically anything else atypical or abnormal that never happened before becoming host to a miniature human. It is both a blessing and a curse for expectant mothers everywhere; a sign that our bodies are doing their most important work of growing precious little ones, and a testament to the fact that we will never, ever be the same.
I struggle to embrace the beauty and mystery of it this time around. All I want to do is sleep, all day, every day. Smells make me queasy – all of them in fact. I gagged at least a dozen times while making dinner last night. Of notable importance, there is also a kid here already this time. One who still wants his mommy to get down on the floor and play cars. One who still needs a bath every night. One who has to be lifted, all 37-pounds of him, to get into his car seat (a feat that is becoming more and more challenging every day.)
My husband (also a pro now) is so knowing and attentive. He reads my mood from just a glance, or the sound of my voice. Yesterday, he calls to check on me from work and after listening to me ramble for a minute or more says sweetly, "You sound like you're either tired or you feel like crap. Which is it?" And I think to myself how much I love this man.
He brings home Diet Coke and doesn't judge. He asks what I've eaten for dinner when the truth is I never want to eat ever again because I am convinced this baby genuinely dislikes all forms of nourishment. Or hates me. (Jury's still out.)
I started back at the gym exactly one week after seeing those two pink lines on the pregnancy test. I read online (thanks Dr. Google) that exercise can help with digestion issues during pregnancy and that lingering feeling of overall crappiness in the first trimester. My doctor applauded me for being so healthy. My husband was impressed.
Oh yes, Chaka Khan, I am every woman!
Or at least I thought I was. I’d been through this before. I was smarter. Wiser. I wouldn’t make the same mistakes of binging on whatever I wanted and gaining a boatload of weight that would take me a year to get off. This time would be different. This time, I was in control.
So two weeks into baby number two, I began working out every morning at 8:00 a.m., forcing my body onto the elliptical machine and willing my legs to move until my playlist was done. Surprisingly, it worked. I felt better, more like myself, and I had enough energy to face the day standing up instead of in bed.
Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that because I was doing all the right things – eating healthy and working out – that God would be kind to me, and make me like one of the #fitmoms I stalk on Instagram who only gain 20 pounds their entire pregnancy and still have abs and toned arms and beautiful, healthy babies. All was going well. I was actually beginning to think maybe I could get through my summer pregnancy and manage to look like a seal, a very toned seal, and not a whale, at the beach.
Except I couldn't pull my jeans up this morning.
This was not part of the plan. I was supposed to be able to keep wearing all of my clothes until well into my second trimester. Friends and family were supposed to come up to me and comment that I didn't even look pregnant. I was already practicing mentally what I'd tell them when they asked for my secret.
Well, you know, I do light cardio five times a week and really watch what I eat. I’m definitely making smarter choices this time around. (Humbly, of course.)
Instead, today I notice that my hips are spreading, and my poor confused thighs (being the followers they are) are doing the same. My breasts? Ballooning. And this morning, as I stood, jeans hanging around my knees in defeat, I reached the slow but life-altering realization that I will never have the satisfaction of being "all belly." My body is such an equal opportunity lover that it is evenly distributing my pregnancy weight everywhere.
I expected it, hey welcomed it. At 20 weeks maybe. 30 for sure. Definitely not 10.
I want to ask God why I can't just lay an egg. Seriously.
But as I sit in the parking lot of the gym wondering whether I have the fortitude to push through 30 minutes of pedaling on the hamster wheel and whether it even matters since in a few more months I'll look like a cow anyway, I remember.
The first time I felt my first son kick. How I knew his sleep habits from the womb. How right I was that he would be a good eater (he is!) How long walks and the rhythm of my heartbeat lulled him to sleep in the afternoon. How he was a part of me, changing me, long before he ever made his debut into the world.
I remember the moment the nurse put him in my arms after the doctor pulled him from my body, still covered in gross amniotic fluid and looking shriveled and chalky. How he cried uncontrollably but calmed when he heard my voice because he knew me just like knew him. I still remember the warmth of his body on my bare skin. How he opened his perfect little mouth, eyes still closed, and turned toward to nurse instantly. I remember watching him as he slept that night, and the very odd feeling of an empty belly.
The reality is there is a part of myself, ourselves, that we never get back with each pregnancy. We give away a piece of ourselves, body and soul, to our babies. Everything changes because pregnancy changes us. And even if (unlike me) you’re blessed to still fit your pre-pregnancy clothes, and even if you never experience morning sickness or get a stretch mark (you freak of nature, you), the truth remains: you will never be the same.
My body has been home to this baby for just 10 weeks. And already, it's happening. Again. And even though I will miss my skinny jeans terribly, and my waistline, and my flat belly, and seeing my toes (let’s face it, I won’t be getting my sexy back any time soon), I know what's to come is exponentially more valuable than my own vanity. And totally, undeniably worth the weight.