Posts Tagged ‘ fears ’

The Truth About Pregnancy Pounds

Monday, October 29th, 2012

While I can joke about my pregnancy weight gain, I thought it only fair to be completely candid about the mental battle with pregnancy pounds in an attempt to acknowledge and commend all my pregnant friends who struggle like I do at times, to love their changing bodies.

Body image is a large component of the nine-month wait and while intellectually most know that weight gain is positive, some days it is just not easy to accept one’s expanding figure.

I have a strict policy that I don’t look at my weight, ever. Aside from the doctor’s office, I don’t step on scales.

Being pregnant requires that I step on a scale at regular appointments, but I always turn around so I don’t see my weight. My doctor and I have an understanding that we don’t discuss weight gain unless it is medically necessary. I have no idea what I gained with my first pregnancy except that it fell into the “healthy range.” I plan to do the same with this pregnancy.

The habit of no numbers and scales is one I have cultivated after many years of beating myself up for what the scale did read. I have discovered that no good comes from them. If the number is too high, I berate myself. If the number is low, I think of a myriad of ways to keep it low. This is why scales and I have parted. It is a no win situation.

During pregnancy and post-pregnancy there is so much pressure surrounding weight. The media perpetually reports about and flogs stars for “letting themselves go” during pregnancy, yet eagerly applauds them when they shed the baby weight and walk the runway with a “perfect post-pregnancy figure” just two months postpartum. It’s devastating, unrealistic, and harmful.

There is so much pressure to look a certain way. During postpartum recovery the nurses continually commented on how small I was and how I’d fit into my regular jeans in no time. While I enjoyed the flattery, it also made me uncomfortable that these were the most readily available compliments. It only adds fuel to the body image fire. Instead, I truly relished the compliments about our adorable baby and sweet family.

It is also frustrating that the amount one gains during pregnancy is a source of competition. Women congratulate each other or smugly compare notes regarding who gained the least. No good comes from this either. I think it should be outlawed to talk weight with other women.

There are so many things women give up during pregnancy. While it is overly apparent that one’s body is sacrificed, it is not always discussed how much mental anxiety this places on women. I have been very fortunate to run for the last 25 weeks of this pregnancy. I was unable to run that long with my first. I know my running days are numbered however. I feel anxious about giving up running and I’m afraid of the mental war it will wage. It makes me admire the women who are put on bed-rest and the inner struggle some face to wonder and worry at how their body will change. Pregnancy requires much sacrifice and it is most definitely worth it, but sometimes, amidst pressure, hormones, and the day-to-day work of growing a baby, it is hard to remember that.

I think the difficulty of letting go of control and embracing one’s pregnant body is a common but not always acceptable topic. It may be viewed as superficial, but it is truly valid because of the conflicting messages to simply “love whatever skin you’re in.” Women are told the pregnant body is beautiful, but society outlines a very specific type of pregnant body that is beautiful and doesn’t truly celebrate the different ways bodies carry babies. It’s too much about numbers and looks.

While some women more easily accept their changing bodies, others struggle for longer. It took me five years to mentally prepare for the uncontrollable nature of pregnancy and the acceptance that having a baby was worth sacrificing my body. I feel selfish and embarrassed admitting that, but it is the truth. The journey to embrace one’s pregnant body is different for everyone, but my hope is that all come to a place of confidence and gratitude for their bodies.

Some days I am love what my body is doing. Other days I struggle to love my new curves or stretch marks. When I am in my head a little too much, when I let the superficiality consume me, I look at my daughter. Her innocent, inquisitive voice calms the negative voice in my head and really does remind me that this job of mothering isn’t about me or my looks. I would endure anything for her and the sweet babe in my belly. And even though it isn’t always easy, I know I can and will and want to endure and embrace it all.

Image: Bathroom scale via trekandshoot/Shutterstock.com

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What Scares Me Most About Having Another Baby Is…

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

the AFTERMATH.

As my cousin’s husband so eloquently put it after his wife gave birth, “It’s like a bomb exploded on her crotch.” I know it’s graphic, but it’s as close to the way I felt after birth as can be put into internet appropriate words.

Warning: if you have not had a baby yet and are nervous or squeamish about the birthing process, this post may not be for you.

With our first, I was terrified to have a baby. The idea of pushing a baby out made me weak in the knees.  But I will never forget the one friend who sagely told me her honest opinion that I painstakingly recalled after birth, “it’s not the delivery that’s hard, it’s the recovery.” Amen. Labor seems like summer camp comparatively.

No one adequately prepared me for the feeling of being ripped apart that lingers for a good six weeks post birth, not to mention every time I peed or #2-ed. I was unaware an inflatable donut would be my lifeblood, and I’d sell my soul to the devil to have a constant supply of them so I didn’t have to schlep my one true donut love around the house like a vagabond.

No one really prepared me for the incessant bleeding either. It’s not all that unfamiliar as it’s like a period, but on crack. And as the stereotypes about periods indicate, that cannot be a good thing.

And I’ll never forget the optimistic words of the postpartum nurse who told me I only had one little hemorrhoid. So bright. So encouraging. So wrong.  Dear tiny little hemorrhoid, you’ve blossomed into my constant companion. Your mother would be so proud.

I don’t fault that nurse. In fact, I hold her on a pedestal. All those labor and delivery and postpartum nurses. They are the salt of the earth. The best people I know. I mean her job is to care for me, a stranger as I come to comprehend what lack of bladder control really means (read: repeatedly pee the bed). Not to mention the tasks of continually cleaning up my blood from all over the floor, comforting me while I cry because I’m scared to poop and then analyzing my bowel movements. If that’s not a saint, I don’t know what is. Nothing but straight up respect for those ladies.

The thing that is most difficult about the aftermath is the length. It’s rough being tore up from the floor up (see what I did there?) for an extended period of time. Sure, showering and getting dressed helps, but it doesn’t erase what you and I both know. A bomb went off down there and 6 weeks ain’t no amount of realistic time to undo that damage.  After being so bamboozled by birth, I felt more ready to rejoin society not in 6 weeks (and many agree), but maybe somewhere closer to 6 months.

Maybe I’m being dramatic, it is my specialty, but the thought of enduring the exploded crotch again terrifies me.

Congratulations if you are one of the lucky ladies who is up walking, running, and sexing before your six weeks. I am not of that breed. Maybe I’m of the “wuss breed” or the “sissy breed,” but there is one thought making “the aftermath” seem surmountable. Nothing compares to the feeling of meeting a new little person.

While I’m not looking forward to the aftermath, I am more aware this time of the intoxication of a newborn baby and the indescribable love that make donut buddies humorous and bladder control just superfluous.

Image: Obstetrician via dabjola/Shutterstock.com

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