Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ship-shape

I didn't think I'd have to confront body image issues while I was pregnant. Certainly I expected to be concerned about getting my normal shape back after Sticky is born, but worry about it now? When I'm barely showing? That's a bit of a surprise. Maybe that was naive of me.

Over the past couple of years as more of my friends have begun to have children, I’ve heard some of them complain about the weight they’ve gained, worrying that they’re getting fat. “You’re not fat,” I tell them. “You’re growing a baby. You look fantastic.” I didn’t understand how they could worry about their weight while they were pregnant. Then, back in June, I put on my favorite jeans and couldn’t get them to button. I knew I was pregnant and that I was supposed to be gaining weight. And in some ways I was pleased to know that something was really happening. But when I looked in the mirror I didn't really look any different, so I just felt fat.

I’ve never been obsessive about my weight. If I realize that I’ve been overindulging and that my clothes are feeling a little snug, I stop eating ice cream and start going to the gym a couple of times a week. I’m never what you’d call skinny, but I’ve found a size that I’m comfortable with and that I can maintain while still satisfying my love of all things sweet.

But I guess I'm a little more weight-conscious than I thought. Whenever I read in my pregnancy book about what I ought to be weighing at a certain point and realize that not only have I stayed within that range, I’m at the low end of the range, I breathe a sigh of relief. I carefully study photographs of myself and this new body to see if the weight's all in my middle or if I'm gaining all over. Floating around in the pool provides temporary relief from the heat and my sciatica, but I have been reluctant to go because it means going out in public in a swimsuit.

It is getting a little bit easier to accept the weight gain and changing shape now that I am feeling (and looking) a little more pregnant (although not enough that anyone's offering me a seat on the bus), rather than just tubby in the middle. Walking by a shop window last week, Brian pointed out a dress he thought I would like, but added, "I guess that probably wouldn't really work for you now, would it?"

"Nope. The waist is...well, it has a waist. And my waist is sort of...missing right now." And I could laugh about it.

5 comments:

The Sister said...

Weight gain is to be expected. But I think it's good that you are conscious of it. Melissa ended up with gestational diabetes and had to really watch what she ate while she was pregnant. After all was said and done she had only gained 20 pounds at the end of her pregnancy (and 8 of those pounds were baby Wyatt). Jennee didn't diet during her pregnancy and now, a year and a half later, she's finally trying to diet and not losing any weight. Also, baby Paige has been in the 90th percentile for her weight since she was about 5 months old. Just keep in mind, you are teaching Sticky his/her eating habits even now.

Elizabeth said...

A note from Andy, that I accidentally deleted as I was diligently cleaning up some nasty comments this morning:

"okay, so isn't that why mother-in-law sent you some mad money, so Sticky would look good in utero... but maybe you decided to secretly save it for a TV instead?"

Elizabeth said...

Andy, the maternity clothes are wonderful, but there is no escaping the fact that they are MATERNITY CLOTHES. They have lots of elastic and are comfy, but they are MATERNITY CLOTHES. They are not normal clothes, although as many women who had children in the nineteen-seventies and -eighties have pointed out to me, I should thank my lucky starts that I'm not wearing flowered tents decorated with enormous clothes.

I think the point I was trying to make last night (which didn't come out quite the way I'd planned, as a result of posting what was basically a free-write and not really read over or revised before posting) was not that I'm totally hating the changes in my body. It was that I never understood the ambivalence pregnant women felt about weight gain until now. And I always thought I was pretty well-adjusted in terms of accepting my body and not comparing myself to women on the covers of fashion magazines (although I do purposely avoid those because I feel my self esteem crashing as I look at their waists that are as big around as my thigh and their legs that are as long as I am tall), but for some reason now that I'm pregnant and totally completely obviously not going to look like that, I'm finding myself concerned anyhow.

The Sister: (Ha! That makes you sound like a nun.) Gestational diabetes scares me! I need my sweets to maintain my mental health. At least it's summer and there is lots of good fresh fruit. If I'm teaching Sticky food habits right now, poor kid's going to want nothing but corn and nectarines. (Which are very healthy and tasty. It's just that my midwives have this nutty idea about "protein" and "calcium.")

Anonymous said...

I have to ask... how exactly did the name Sticky come about?

-Brover

Elizabeth said...

Because we wanted her to stick.