Posts Tagged ‘ under pressure ’

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/

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Coming Out…

Monday, October 1st, 2012

For the entire first trimester, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops that I was pregnant, but being a healthy worrier required I hold onto the secret a little longer. It was particularly unbearable because truthfully, I’m a natural born gossip sharer. My motto: I over-share because I care. And the pregnancy type of gossip? Some of my fave. You should have seen my mature reaction to the news that my girl Beyoncé was with child. Air kicks and jazz hands ensued. I am not ashamed.

Alas, I was also harboring the guilt that a random sales lady in the Phoenix area knew my secret BEFORE MY OWN MOTHER because I was acting a “middle school fool” with a secret I promised not to tell, but of course meant I had to tell. I’m sure the sales lady wanted to know I bought the skirt with the stretchy waistband because; “I’m pregnant!” squealed at only octaves Mariah Carey can pleasingly reach. And I’m just going to pretend things didn’t get a little awkward when I went in for a congratulatory hug.

The pregnancy coming out process is a big deal these days. You can’t just phone the VIPs in your life and say, “We’re having a baby!” So passé.

This isn’t, heaven forbid, the pre-social media era of the 80s where creativity was dormant and everybody didn’t GET to know your business. There are no excuses to be unoriginal, or at least not to copy someone else’s idea when you have a plethora of perfect, anxiety-inducing Pinterest birth announcement ideas at your mouse-tip. A birth announcement that doesn’t manage to include the ever prominent mason jars, hair braiding, striped straws, and quinoa is no birth announcement at all. I mean, do you love your unborn child?

Don’t even get me started on Facebook. It’s teeming with sweat-inducing pressure. To post or not to post the sonogram? That is the question. To dramatically circle or not to circle your future baby’s man parts? Decisions, decisions. Don’t tell me I’m the only one to feel the pressure, people. I’ve got 99 skills but creativity ain’t one.

I’m sure everyone suspected we were with child anyway. Our first born is at a socially acceptable age to try for a second, and the curious regularly started asking when we are having more. The more forward folk asked me flat out if I was pregnant.

Life lesson time: That question is never okay. NEVER. I don’t care if someone is in the nine months beached whale stage; you mind your p’s and q’s and wait for them to tell you. I’ve seen my own mother prostrate on the couch for an entire day bemoaning the fact that someone wrongly asked her when she was due. The lady has birthed 6 children au natural and the thing that brought her to her knees was the nosy pregnancy police. That was a very impressionable lesson from the streets. When it comes to pregnancy, it’s simply a “Don’t Ask” policy.

Despite it all, we were ready to tell. I couldn’t wait to come out and tell everyone we were ready for the magical tomfoolery of a newborn again. We had our copy cat creative idea all ready to go: A secret scratch and reveal mailer. Be impressed. There’s nothing like the suspense of  imagining our family and friends scratching and grinning at what they all suspected, then dialing up our digits and air kicking, jazz handing, and squealing along with us.

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