I’ll be 20 weeks pregnant this weekend, and up to yesterday, I hadn’t really gained much weight. Maybe four pounds, but I still fluctuated up and down two pounds like most people do. I’ve been wearing my regular clothes instead of maternity clothes, although I’ve had to do that trick where you use a rubber band threaded through the button-hole of your pants and looped around the button to keep them closed. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I’ve been almost obsessed with not gaining weight in my first and second trimesters, because I gained so much weight with V. Nearly fifty pounds. I was not a beautiful, glowing pregnant woman. I was a beast. I had a thick roll of backfat and my chin started at my bottom lip and went to my collarbone. My eyes are close-set and my face is round, so gaining weight during my last pregnancy had me resembling an obese chipmunk. On the day I delivered, I weighed as much as Odie, who is eight inches taller than me at 6’3″.
It took over a year to get the weight off. Everyone told me that breastfeeding would make the weight “melt” off. Baloney. If anything, it kept me ravenously hungry and made my body hold on to fat stores that would guarantee a milk supply, come feast or famine. Only feast showed up. By the time I got pregnant with Pringles* in October, I still had ten pounds left to lose. That will apparently have to wait.
In my first trimester, I dropped about five pounds. My nightly glass or two of wine habit had to stop, of course, so I was saving a few hundred calories there. My nausea was ghastly and I had aversions to nearly everything. I couldn’t even stomach macaroni and cheese, which, if you knew me at all, you would never believe. To make it worse (or better, depending on your point of view), I had diarrhea almost non-stop for the first 12 weeks. I know! You are so glad I shared!
My face, instead of blowing up like a post-“Celebrity Rehab” crackie, leaned out. My prominent cheekbones are unfortunately spoiled by the red welts of acne covering them since my positive pregnancy test. Odie is usually gallant and vociferous in his praise of my beauty, but when I moan that my skin looks awful, he earnestly confesses that “Yes, it does.”
Being a high school teacher, I’m not used to having the worst skin in the room. I mean, NOW I am, but not before.
By this time in my last pregnancy, I think I’d probably gained 20 pounds. Maybe more. Probably more. Because I’m a chick (and an L.A. chick at that) I have been thrilled to only gain four pounds up to now. I say “up to now” because when I got on the scale this morning (as I and millions of other insane L.A. women do EVERY day, sometimes many times a day), my weight had jumped three pounds from yesterday. My heart sank as the number climbed. I pouted to Odie, “I’m gaining weight!” to which he sagely replied, “You’re supposed to. You’re pregnant.”
For all that pregnancy changes me, it doesn’t completely shut down the crazy body obsessiveness I’ve lived with for 29 of my 38 years. I admit that I had a fantasy of gaining NO weight during this pregnancy. Of shrinking around my belly like Angelina Jolie with Shiloh. I remember all the tabloids printing pictures of her flying her airplane with her big pregnant belly and her arms were concentration camp thin. The headlines were all about how she was starving herself and her baby, “wasting away.” I remember thinking, “Lucky bitch.”
I’m going for my monthly OB check-up tomorrow, and I find myself dreading the scale. When I figuratively step back and look at this situation, I see how silly it is. I realize that I am wanting some sort of pat on the back for maintaining my weight. I can be a praise-whore. Last month, I lost a pound instead of gaining, and my doctor said “Good job maintaining your weight.” I glowed at her words and became hungry for more. Now, I recognize that I am falling into old patterns of behavior that no longer serve me. Trying to please people in authority in ways that are ultimately detrimental to me.
I’m at the point in my pregnancy where it’s time to accept that my body is going to change. That I’m going to see some numbers on the scale I hoped I’d never see again. At least, not when I wasn’t giving someone a piggy-back ride while being weighed. That I’m never going to look as hot pregnant as anorexic movie stars do.
Tomorrow is my fourth wedding anniversary, and four years ago tonight I was curled up in a ball around my growling stomach. I starved for weeks to fit into my wedding dress. It worked, but the misery I endured in the process is still easy to access in my memory. And I STILL wasn’t skinny. I sure was happy, though. Euphoric. Hungry, but euphoric.
I’m going to go have a snack. I’m breaking my “no eating after 7 p.m.” rule, but that rule is for non-pregnant skinny bitches.
*Pringles is the nickname of our girl fetus. Trixiebell, my maid of honor, suggested it after I complained that I’d just eaten the baby’s body weight in ranch flavored Pringles.