“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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.