You might have seen various other places on the internet last night where I mentioned that someone told me I looked like I must be due any time now. In addition to wearing a very loose-fitting maxi dress, I was, at the time, carting my children up and down the YMCA stairs, trying to enroll Charles in the next level of swim classes. It was 5 PM, I was exhausted, and I looked it. And then I had to fight to get Charles into a class two levels above the class he just graduated (yeah! Kid is awesome!) because the next level was full and only offered on Monday and Wednesday, when I have Boot Camp. Pregnancy is an emotional state, and having just finished a stressful day at work, I nearly cried when faced with this information. Do I sacrifice my workout for the continuity of my child’s swimming education? Back down the stairs we went to talk with the Aquatic Director, who had to talk with the swimming instructors, who agreed that Charles could handle being in a class with six- and seven-year-olds. Back UP the stairs we went to finally pay our money. All the while I was yelling at my kids, “Stop punching the buttons on the Gatorade machine!” and “Don’t play on the stairs!” and “Don’t run around the pool!” like a good mother. I got him two levels up, and I got hit with the observation that I look as much like a cow as I feel.
I have already gained “too much” weight for this pregnancy. But that’s what I do. I gain weight when I’m pregnant, I gain lots of it, and I gain it quickly. When I was pregnant with Jamie, I read all sorts of articles on how to be healthy while pregnant, how not to gain too much weight, and how to eat right, because I didn’t want to repeat the weight gain I experienced with Charles. And you know what? None of them worked. I don’t overeat. I exercise regularly. I eat really healthy things – very little sugar and no junk food (except Pirate’s Booty. I love it). But my pregnant body converts every calorie I intake and then some into padding for my growing baby. Add to that the fact that my stomach muscles, regardless of my pre-pregnancy ability to do a continuous 3-minute plank, immediately pooched out, and I am one big mama at 16 weeks.
Why am I saying this, again? Well, because the perception out there is that you have to have a skinny pregnancy to have a healthy pregnancy. Doctors told my mother’s generation that they should gain no more than 20 lbs while pregnant. Doctors now say between 25 and 35 is safe. Safe. Well, I gained 50 with Charles and 55 with Jamie and I safely delivered healthy, full-term babies. We pay lip service to the fact that “everybody is different” but no matter which book you read or which blog you enjoy or which pregnancy website you turn to, the party line on pregnancy weight gain is that you shouldn’t gain too much. And too much is more than 35 lbs during your whole pregnancy. If you “went nuts” and gained ten pounds during the first trimester, well, better make some good decisions now! It’s time to curb that gain to make a better, healthier environment for your baby!
I’d like to call bullshit on all of that. In my third pregnancy, I can tell you that some of us gain more weight than others and we are perfectly healthy and our babies are perfectly safe. I eat a better diet than most non-pregnant people I know, and I certainly don’t overeat. I exercise and I get plenty of sleep. I am healthy, and so is my baby. I have never had gestational diabetes and I doubt I will this pregnancy. People can be shocked at how big I am and how quickly I’ve grown, and that’s okay. But it’s not okay to assume that I am doing anything wrong or that I am endangering my baby.
And the looks of horror when I tell people that I’m due in July? The stunned, quick glances back and forth between my face and my belly to, I don’t know, confirm what I’m saying or make sure I’m not lying? That is just plain rude.
You know what really sucks, though? As much as I know all of this, I have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror and liking what I see. I want to be the skinny pregnant lady with the thin thighs and the cute bump. No matter what I do, it’s just not to be. When other mothers are slipping back into pre-pregnancy clothing between six and nine months post-partum, I will be running mile after mile and doing exercise after exercise just to drop from a size 14 to a size 12… to eventually get back to a size 6 by 15 months post-partum or so.
You know what, though? I might still be better off. I got no stretch marks when I was pregnant with Charles and I got one when I was pregnant with Jamie. My body knows how to get fat. Take that, skinny moms.