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.

 

Glowing? and Other Body Issues

I must have been glowing today, or else people feel sorry for me because my belly is huge. But I think I was glowing, because I was wearing a tank top and Venice Beach souvenir sweatpants, with no makeup and my hair in a pile on my head. I had just done laundry and was pumping gas when a duo of twenty-something guys in the car next to me (who could only see my head above the car, and not my Rubenesque bod), kept checking me out and smiling at me. They continued to do so, the way I remember guys doing back when I was “hot,” and then as they got into their car, they said, “Have a good night,” and watched me as they drove away. I wondered if they could spot my carry-on luggage when they got the full view. Or maybe they saw it all along and just have a fetish for round women?

Strangely, though, right after they left, a car from Minnesota pulled up with a young woman, a young man, and a dog. I was almost done pumping my gas, and the woman, a cute red-haired gal, went in to grab a soda, and when she came back, she just yelled, “You’re pretty!” to me and then got into her car. I blushed and said, “Thank you!” and then her man said, “She really means that, because she only says it a couple times a year.” It was the oddest, sweetest thing, and I must say it made a heavy woman feel good.

Not that I don’t feel beautiful anymore; it’s just different. I mean, this pregnancy experience is like going through puberty in fast-forward. Every day there’s a new surprise, and I won’t lie, some of them gross me out. Every pink part of my body is now swollen and dark. I could give you more details, but it might embarrass you. I feel lucky that my face, arms, and legs still resemble their old selves, and I fear the next few months when they might also become unrecognizable.

At least my husband (who every few days is still saying, “You’re my wife!”) is still into me. In fact, he is more into me than he has been since, like, we started dating. I suppose it’s because I’m a living manifestation of his potency as a man, but he maintains that’s not it and that I’m just “beautiful.” I catch him looking at me in this proud haze, as if in disbelief that he nabbed me, and touching me as much as he can (and not just my formerly tiny boobs, which have now doubled in size!)

I’ve so far kept the stretch marks at bay by slathering sweet almond oil all over my belly every time I remember, which is at least once a day, sometimes twice. Here’s hoping it keeps working. My hair is a mane that rivals Fabio’s. People comment on it all the time. My skin is still remarkably clear, while my belly button is halfway to an outtie. My feet don’t seem swollen yet, nor do my hands. My walk is slowly becoming a bit of a waddle, and I actually have been wearing one of those elastic belts to support my heavy womb if I go on a long walk, or else I can feel them in there, stretching ligaments–it feels like a side stitch, right in the gut.

At 22 Weeks, I’m my own science experiment. I’ve been through more extreme ups and downs in the past four months than ever in my whole life (and that’s saying a lot for me). But I’m more than halfway through now, and hope I can continue to watch with interest instead of letting the abruptness of these changes scare the Venice Beach sweatpants off me.

RIP Hand-Eye Coordination

so don’t want to become a pregnancy cliche who uses annoying terms like “pregnancy brain,” but I have no choice. Pregnancy brain is real.  I have to constantly stop mid-sentence to remember what the end of the sentence was supposed to be. It hurts my brain. I commit so many scheduling snafus that I’m verging on just saying “no” to everything so I can maintain my dignity. But let’s be honest: my dignity is gone. Either I forgot to flush the toilet last week, or some ill-humored reverse-burglar snuck in and left poo in our bathroom. Twice.

And it’s not just my mental game that’s being affected. I drop everything I touch. I pour a cup of water and then immediately knock it over. I burn my face with the curling iron so that my cheek turns brown and people think I’m being abused. I lose my earrings under the car seat. I break the egg yolks when I’m trying to do sunny side up, and end up having to scramble them. Luckily, my stability on my feet hasn’t been affected yet, but my hands are as clumsy as my mind.

I am becoming an invalid.