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.

The Mom-to-Be Identity Shift

At 13 Weeks I’m not really showing, and we aren’t going to make a public announcement of our future babies for another week or so, after we send out these cutesy postcards to our families and close friends. So only our immediate families and the people we see in everyday life know about the babies. But I know. I know I am a different person already. Now that I’m pregnant, I have a new identity whether I like it or not.

In L.A. I have friends for all occasions and purposes thanks to the many interesting and inspiring people here. But with my new priorities, not all my former friends are going to make the cut for being friends with “Mom” me. And for some friends, I’m not going to make their cut, now that I’m a matronly old bag.

Below is a table of my friend categories and how our relationships have (or will) change since I’ve taken on this new identity.

Friend Type Pre-Preggers Relationship Post-Preggers Relationship
 Go-Out Friends These are twenty-somethings who are full of energy and always searching for something in life. I only see them in groups when we go together to a bar or party. I usually attend the get-together for a couple of hours and slip out quietly, alone. I’m not interested in being part of any kind of rowdy group these days. I can’t drink, I have no energy for boisterous conversation, noise gives me a headache, and I’m too tired to stay up past 8 most nights. Not to mention these friends constantly take photos of their fun times for social media, and I’m looking a bit chubby since I’ve gained ten pounds and have no visible “baby bump.” Verdict: Count me out.
Hot Mess Friends Much like the the Go-Out friends, my Hot Mess friends are twenty-something, searching, and constantly in a state of personal turmoil. But I’m closer to these friends. Instead of going somewhere in a group, I hang out with these friends one-on-one. They usually come over to my place. I give them food, wine, and weed, and we get slightly cross-faded while I act as their drunk therapist and give them nuggets of hope. They listen to my stories, too, and sometimes we break into song until my neighbors yell at us. These are lovely people I care about muchly. I do enjoy their company, but often after hanging out with them, I’ve found I feel depleted, just from all the existential angst they are carrying around. These friends really care about shit that doesn’t matter, but they won’t realize how much it doesn’t matter for another 4-7 years, so all I can do is listen and say, “I’ve been there.” Verdict: I am not equipped to hang out with these friends while sober, and I don’t want to soak in any unnecessary negative energy. I am putting these friendships on indefinite pause.
 

Productive Activity friends

These are either the artist friends I mostly see when we are working on a writing or movie-making project together, or the people I go to fitness classes or movies or community events with. We do go deep and get personal, but only for a couple of hours at a time. We get along great but have our own lives that don’t necessarily intersect. We have dinner occasionally, but most the time we’re too busy working on art or doing activities. I’m still yearning to be productive, and with my pregnant mush-brain, these guys are almost my only hope of staying on track. They keep me writing, keep me active, keep me engaged. They are mature 30-somethings, so they at least pretend to understand my struggles and even share theirs for creative fodder. Verdict: I’ll take as many of these friends as I can get.
 Soulmates These friends come in all ages, from 20-something to 60-something. They are the friends who have seen me sad, happy, angry, and crazy. They’re the ones I can be around whatever the circumstance, sober as a nun. We have a spiritual connection and we talk about matters of the spirit. Our friendships are 50-50; we give as much as we get from them. These are strong, unique humans who are committed to growing better all the time. They know the real me and we don’t have to try to impress each other or find activities to make our time together less awkward. We can just “be,” and being with them replenishes me rather than depletes me. Verdict: I can’t do without these friends. They make pregnancy (and life) easier.
New Friends / Friends I Haven’t Seen in Years  These are people I liked from the beginning. Some I just met a few months ago and hoped we could become friends. Some are people I’ve considered “close friends” at some point, but for L.A. reasons, we’ve had to postpone our plans so often that I only physically see them once a year. We liked each other when I was not pregnant. It’s safe to assume that we’ll still like each other now that I am. However, without the normal buffers of drinks or dangerous sporting activities that mark the beginnings of relationships in my world, it may be difficult to get this friendship off the ground. Verdict: It’s up to them. If they can see the real me beneath the boring, farting, teetotaling geezer I’ve become, then I’m open.