My Pregnant Body

“Woo! You’re carryin’ a lot!”
-Man drinking a 40 who cat-called me while I was taking a walk this week.

Yes. It’s undeniable now, even to bums on the street. Things change about my body every day. My belly button is a half-outie now. My nips are the size of silver dollars. I just saw a photo from a year ago and was astonished at the concave waist I never appreciated enough. I wonder how it will feel to be that svelte again? But first, I have the rest of this journey to finish. And on this journey, life is getting slightly inconvenient.

Body Image
Luckily, my face and the rest of my body haven’t changed much (yet?). A dude flirted with me from behind the other day, and when I turned around to quip back, I could see the surprise on his face. He was no longer interested. It’s okay. I feel like a hippopotamus. I only have about seven pairs of pants and seven shirts I can wear, which I rotate like one of those kids in the math word problems from elementary school. Kai still finds me sexy and we still have a good time in bed. I just close my eyes so I can pretend my belly isn’t obscuring the view of his goods, and try to enjoy the increased sensitivity from all the extra blood. I don’t try very hard when I go somewhere. I feel out of place everywhere, like I’m a spectacle. I feel super old around teenagers, super ugly around pretty people, super ghetto in my maternity clothes when others are dressed nice.

Preggers Exercise
The best thing I can do for my self-image is to get exercise and eat mostly healthily. Every day I do at least a bike ride, walk, or yoga, sometimes pilates or barre, last weekend a “mindful triathlon” with a 5K, aerial yoga, and meditation. But it’s not like I’m going hard when I do work out. When I ride my bike, I’m slow as molasses and even the slightest incline makes me huff and puff, dragging my extra 35 pounds. When I do yoga, I can’t twist, up-dog, lie on my front, or bring my knees to my chest ’cause my belly’s in the way. And anytime I walk for longer than 20 minutes I have to wear one of these big elastic back support things, or the twins start weighing down my womb–it starts stretching, hurting, and feeling like it might break.

After the 5K. I’m the bump on the right.

Peeing
Not to mention, I have to factor in peeing in everything I do. Luckily, I’ve always had tricks that are not for the faint of heart (keeping a Big Gulp cup in the car to pee in when stuck in traffic, digging a hole in the sand at the beach and then strategically placing myself to use the litter box under my towel without anyone knowing), but those aren’t always available. When I take a walk, now I have to plot out the route with the most accessible toilets. Every 8 minutes is preferable, but I can go 15 comfortably if I didn’t just drink a ton of water. Either way, the excruciating urgency always gives way only to a disappointing thimble full of pee, since half my bladder is squished under a baby.

Sleep
Sleep is now uncomfortable in every position. I was making the reclining-on-a-ramp-of-pillows thing work until this (26th!) week, but suddenly, my tailbone feels like it’s on fire after a few hours like that. Side-sleeping is hell, as my bottom leg and both arms begin to tingle/hurt within an hour. Last night, I painstakingly changed positions every few hours, turning on the lamp so I can see how to best rearrange 8-10 pillows, and finally getting an airline donut pillow from under the bed to put my butt on.

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The pillow fort

Who is Moving It?
Beneath my skin, the babies have been making their presence known, and it is reassuring and sweet, even though my belly sometimes feels like a dryer that someone put a few pairs of shoes in and then turned on. It’s such a strange feeling; involuntary movement in my body, like a muscle twitch, but it’s someone else doing it. Sometimes they kick and flutter, other times I can feel them totally changing positions–a little butt sliding against my abdominal wall, changing the shape of my belly. I try to picture who is located where, and I wonder if they’re interacting with each other.

I wonder what other nice surprises I’ll be treated to over the next three months. Three months sounds like a long time, but 12 weeks does not. Soon I will have my body back, but, as my good friend, a mom, recently told me–I will never again have my heart.

 

The Honeymoon Phase

I feel like a totally different person than the depressed shell of a human I was during the first trimester. My mood on the whole has gone from bleak and dismal to relaxed and cheerful in the past month or two: I’m in the Honeymoon Phase of pregnancy, and boy does it feel better.

Factors that could have contributed to this miraculous change:

  • HORMONES: They say the first trimester hormones are the worst, and they level off during mid-pregnancy. I say that is 100% accurate. Most of my depressed days did not feel like they were happening for a concrete reason. I cried just because I couldn’t not cry, I couldn’t see the good in anything, and I didn’t want to get out of bed in the mornings. I didn’t feel like me; I felt I was being controlled by some demon (hormones). After a few months, a switch flipped and I felt like my sunny old self again, complete with goals and interests.
  • TWINS: The anxiety and dark clouds didn’t entirely disappear once we found out it was not just a single baby inside…but that revelation was a huge turning point for my mood. I finally had an explanation for my out-of-the-ordinary emotional incontinence, not to mention my double fatigue. I stopped blaming myself and I actually felt excited for the babies.
  • GIVING FEWER FUCKS: Once I realized I am a human incubator of two lives, I realized that I am doing enough. This attitude is one I’ve been on the path toward for years, getting happier and happier the closer I come to not caring what anyone thinks. But now I’ve arrived. Yeah, we need money, and I need to fulfill my creative goals and keep my friends…but my first priorities are getting enough sleep, healthy food, exercise, meditation, and alone time, then, doing all the research, nesting, and procuring of items that will ensure these babies are safe and healthy once on Earth. That leaves me a mere couple of hours per day to do unrelated things. Does that mean I say “no” more often, and that when I do say “yes,” I am less fun, less accurate, and slower in every way? Yes. Do I give a fuck? No.
  • I’M MARRIED: I never thought I’d be so happy to be married, but this ties in with the previous bullet point. I have found the most amazing companion to help me grow, make me laugh, relax with me, and get me. And he has never been so into me as all the days since we committed our lives to each other. I know we’re in the honeymoon phase, but there’s nothing between us that isn’t real as real gets, and that makes me so glad I’ve long since left the days of running around trying to be as “sexy” as possible, exhausting myself with my “adventures,” smiling and trying to impress everyone around me. No thank you! Kai and I took a little honeymoon to Catalina Island a few weekends ago. We had such a great time. One day, we took a five-hour nap, then went to the grocery store and got hot dogs to grill at our hotel for dinner. We ate them, and some chips, in bed while watching a documentary about the Unabomber.

The fact that I don’t feel I have to search or strive for happiness is the most liberating experience. I’ve accomplished about four things today, so I’m not asking anything else of myself. I’m about to go to bed at 9:30pm and have one of those crazy pregnancy dreams, and just enjoy where I am.

I know that the third trimester is probably going to be a whole ‘nother story, and I’m going to have to learn how to live all over again. And same when the babies get here. I just hope that this ability to let it be will keep growing, and though I know it’s a possibility, I really hope the hormones will never again turn me into someone I don’t recognize.

It’s Really Happening.

I have these dumb apps on my phone which tell me week by week what fruit the babies supposedly resemble, size wise. The Bump says they’re cantaloupes this week, while What to Expect says “ear of corn.” (Huh? How can a baby be the size of an ear of corn? And furthermore, who decided to put “endive” on the list? Who knows anything about the size of an endive?) These comparisons are supposed to get us moms-to-be excited, picturing what’s happening within us more vividly, I guess. But, needless to say, picturing two ears of corn in my belly doesn’t really make me feel motherly.

However, one thing did make me feel it this week. We took a tour of the UCLA BirthPlace, where, Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will be escorting these two precious souls into the physical realm in 14 weeks or less. That doesn’t sound like long.

As we walked the hallways with other couples, looking at the amenities in the private rooms, with their adjustable lighting for ambience and their couch where my husband will be sleeping, the reality began to set in. THIS IS HAPPENING. I actually began to get excited by the prospect of giving birth, once the nurse clarified some things I’d been worried about: UCLA supports natural births and only intervenes when absolutely necessary. They let you wear your clothes, play your music, put flameless candles around the room…they even give you lavender oil if you want, and they make sure that every baby gets skin-to-skin contact with mom as soon as possible. Babies aren’t taken to the nursery; they stay in the room with their mom and dad. And there’s an iPad menu where you can order whatever food you want, rather than eating smelly hospital food. I’m sure it’s not going to be the most fun I’ve ever had, but it doesn’t scare me at the moment.

I know that, depending on the babies’ placement and size and such, I may not be able to avoid an intervention when the time comes, but I am at least going to do everything I can to make sure these two cook as long and healthily as possible so we can keep them out of the NICU and bring them straight into our arms.