Valerie: The pregnancy books that I've read discussed a lot about physical side effects. The barfing, the dizziness, the congestion, the pantyliners, how you might try to eat dirt. What they didn't really cover were body image change issues. After all, you're pregnant, lady! Good times!
Alex: Not just good times, great times, perhaps even the GREATEST TIMES! Books and websites with paragraph after paragraph about how your baby is being cared for and carried around by this beautiful vessel of life and it's the most wonderful time, and opinions ranking pregnancy from "civic duty" to "Earth Mother™" to maybe even a "reawakening" of your body.
Valerie: For me, not so good times. Until about week 16, I just looked chubby. I felt sloppy and all my clothes were too tight. I modified my work pants by wearing one of those "belly bands," the charming elastic sleeve that you use to cover up the fact that your fly is down. To compliment this look, I used my larger shirts to disguise the ridiculous belly band. But even my big shirts were getting tight at the waist. The waist! I knew about the bigger belly, of course, but I thought my waist would remain, you know, normal. At some point, maybe week 12, I measured my waist with a tape measure and found it had grown 4 inches. I have not touched the tape measure since that haunting moment.
Alex: I never really thought about being on the receiving end of the phrase, "OOH! You're getting SO BIG!" until recently. Who wants to hear that? I mean, I guess some pregnant ladies do get behind the idea, but again, lots of the pregnancy propaganda we've run across says "here's how your body is changing, and here's why it's changing, and it will keep right on changing" without discussing how you might feel about the changes, how you might be bewildered by the speed of the changes, and how differently each and every woman changes. Some ladies are probably on the scale and using the tape measure every day to see what has changed, but many are probably not prepared for the millions of adjustments required to prepare the body for birth.
Valerie: Part of my fixation on my "chubbiness" probably has to do with the fact that my body image was not so hot to start with. About five years ago, I gained around twenty-five pounds during a stressful time, and I just couldn't seem to lose it. In the month before I got pregnant and the first month of pregnancy, before I knew, I lost about five pounds. I was feeling good about that. It was a start.
Then, after I finally figured out that my exhaustion wasn't just a regular case of the sleepies, but the first sign that there was a bun in the oven, I didn't know what to think. I knew I had to take good care of myself and definitely not diet, but the books I was reading also offered stern warnings about gaining too much weight, and eating a diet filled with leafy vegetables and whole grains. I ate a pretty healthy diet, but it definitely included dessert, and, before I knew I was preggars, a fair bit of alcohol. The wine I cut out right away, but no ice cream? Seriously?
Alex: I have been told by various unnamed pregnancy books currently in our house to not gain sympathy weight during pregnancy, to fetch all manner of foodstuffs at any time of the day or night, to not keep alcohol in the house, to not even speak about alcohol (or sushi, or soft cheeses, etc.) around my wife, to make sure I am physically fit enough to take care of a baby once it arrives, and that the most incredible sex in the world will happen all second trimester long. No really, your congested, achy, sleepy wife will want nothing more than to have sex with you constantly in the second trimester (crazy hormones!). It was a universal truth, and it applies to all women. I read it in a book, it must be true!
Valerie: The idea of a miserable, restrictive pregnancy was more than I could bear. I kept eating dessert like a normal person, and even if I hadn't, I still would have ended up with a thick waist and unzipped fly. It's inevitable for a preggy. The one thing that honestly made me feel better was buying clothes made for ladies like me--ladies with bumps. A few twenty dollar dresses at Motherhood Maternity and I felt a thousand times better. Seriously. I wasn't putting a round belly in square pants, so to speak. I'm now at 22 weeks, and in the last month, I've felt a lot better about the belly and the waist. I'm starting to like the bump instead of fighting it.
Alex: I think for all the sources of information that come at you from all directions, the message that gets lost in the shuffle is that this is your pregnancy, your pregnant body, and your experience alone. No matter who might be around to experience it with you, offer opinion and advice, no other person can truly know what you're experiencing RIGHT NOW. Your body is constantly changing all the time your entire life, but unless you are paying attention, or someone points it out, you probably don't notice most of the time. Unless you're pregnant, when you can't help but notice, and everyone will point it out. "OOOH! LOOK AT YOU! YOU'RE HUGE!"
Valerie: Did anyone else feel all chunky-style while pregnant? Or were you blissfully bumpy?
Valex and the Lovely Lady BumpI do believe they are both glowing with pregnancy hormones. Looking good, kids, looking good.