Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When You Feel Like a Hippo

Yes, I also sleep with an eye mask. That is, when I sleep. 

The weirdest thing about being pregnant is that you feel huge -- like hippopotamus huge -- even though you don't always look it in the first half or so of the process. I'm in that awkward phase of the pregnancy (20 weeks, about halfway through the pregnancy) where my weight has shifted and the clothing I've been getting by in just isn't necessarily working. Everything feels snug, and the things that I have that are naturally oversized make me look more huge (I think, anyway). 

I'm blessed with an amazing husband who -- on the first date -- told me that he thinks pregnant women are beautiful (it means they work, come on, how is that not attractive?) and that a woman's body changes more rapidly and frequently than a man's body and that he's cool with that. 

I've spent the past few months in anticipation of going to the U.S. and doing a crazy shopping adventure at Old Navy and Target to pick up maternity maxi dresses and skirts and sleeveless tops that I can modest-up with the the shells I own in abundance. When I canceled my U.S. trip, I thought, well, I'll just keep wearing what I'm wearing and if it stretches out, it stretches out and I'll figure out what to do when our finances are more in a mode of being able to afford things that fit. 

Alas, I don't think that's going to work. Or maybe I just need to come to grips with my size. 

As someone who has never been skinny or thin or even average, I can tell you that being pregnant is tough on the ego and self-image. There's a reason I haven't been taking the typical pregnancy photos. I'm struggling with feeling like my overall image hasn't changed much, even though it has, and I can feel it. It's a huge mind-mess. 

Looking at maternity bras and clothing and scanning discussion groups, it seems to me that there's something huge missing from the conversation: what it means and what it's like to be a curvy girl that's pregnant. 

When I was living in New Jersey and Colorado, I had a fairly regular gym regimen. In Colorado, I was going almost every day, spending a half-hour on the elliptical and then a half-hour on weights and working on balancing exercises. Burdened with misaligned patella on both legs, there are not many exercises I can do that aren't going to worsen an already bad knee problem (swimming and elliptical were the two okays I got from the last three physical therapists I had). Unfortunately, there isn't a pool super close, and there's no gym in sight. 

Right before I found out I was pregnant (which we found out while we were in England over Pesach, by the way), I was game to start a workout regimen again. I wanted to track down a Wii Fit and get moving, but the moment you find out you're pregnant, all the books and advice sound bytes tell you not to start up anything new. 

Stick to walking! they say. 

I've always found walking to be like ... the most boring thing on the planet when you don't have someplace to go. It's why I always hated running during volleyball in high school. When your'e running in circles, it's just pointless. Give me a destination!

So I'm doing what I can. My diet is still largely vegetarian (although with the pregnancy I've been craving meat and feeding that craving once a week or so), so I'm not gaining weight very rapidly according to my checkups. At my size, you're encouraged to not gain more than 15 or 20 pounds during the pregnancy, and I'm on a good pace for that. I try to walk up to the grocery store, even on the hottest of days, and every Shabbat we take a hard schlep around the neighborhood, which is crazy hilly and hard on me, but it's something. 

Anyone out there struggled with the "I'm already curvy" and "I'm getting much curvier" transition? How did you handle it? Did you just layer more? Wear more loose-fitting clothes? Or is it a non-starter when it comes to dealing?