Friday, August 20, 2010

A few more serious thoughts

This blog post has been brewing since week 6 or so. It may be the reason for the blog's creation. The UPS man helped (unknowingly) convince me to write it down during this, the beginning of my third trimester.

My first trimester, I lost about 15 pounds. I just couldn't eat much at all. Thankfully, I only had few episodes of throwing up. Overall though, my appetite was extremely poor. On a good day, I ate maybe 1000 calories. The weight came off quickly. Admittedly, I was getting down to the weight that I wanted to be at pre-pregnancy. The scale's readings were not disappointing me nor was I worried about losing more. I wasn't trying to not eat, but I wasn't too excited about getting my appetite back either.

All the while, I was reading magazines and watching shows that talked about weight gain during pregnancy. "Try not to gain too much, especially early on," I read. I also saw articles and advertisements that focused on shedding pregnancy pounds. I even saw a couple of things that were related to losing baby weight like the celebrities do.

Even though I had several sets of concerned eyes staring at my plate each meal, I also, out in public, heard from people that because I already was showing a little baby bump that I was going to "be huge" towards the end. There were "you must be having twins" comments. Mind you--I was not gaining weight--I was losing it.

The doctor's office was never concerned. I ate a lot of fruit and took my vitamins. I drank smoothies.

The second trimester was much the same and people still commented about my body shape. I'm not sure why this becomes publicly acceptable during a woman's pregnancy. I've never had so much open conversation about my appearance.

A couple of dr.'s visits ago, the scale finally showed an increase. I was not back to pre-pregnancy weight, I'm still not, but I had gained a couple of pounds.

A wave of slight disappointment went through me.

I caught that feeling and thought, "what was that? This is not bad news. It's time for the upswing to begin, Stephanie."

I already have a pre-disposition to being sensitive about my weight though I fortunately have never seen the completion of the anorexia gene. Overall, I would say that I have a pretty healthy self-image and body image. I am confident in my self and my life. I need to eat healthier on a regular basis, pregnant or not, and should exercise more, but I don't routinely beat myself up about my weight. Even so, I find that my thoughts about how I look have been affected, and not necessarily in a good way.  I should have, and still should only be, concerned that I was/am healthy and that baby girl was/is getting everything she needs to grow well.
Being pregnant and thus subject to more scrutiny from others about my weight has given me a new perspective on body image.

Are we not talking out of both sides of our mouths? Are we not walking contradictions? Are we that indoctrinated by media's images and advertisements and celebrity-obsessed that we cannot help but look at a pregnant woman and wonder about how many babies might be residing in that womb? Logically, very logically, a 7 pound baby is going to take up some room on the front side of a body.

I saw two other pregnant women in Target today and we all looked vastly different, from hair color and style to height to tummy size.  Who cares?  As long as they don't buy that clearance pack of bibs before I do, I'm willing to let us all look different and be different; we talk differently, we walk differently, etc., etc.    I doubt either of them is obsessed with keeping their food separately on their dinner plates like I am.

Why are we concerned about anything other than healthy weight gain and nutrition for ourselves and our growing babies? Why do we allow images and suggestions and grueling workout routines, mostly unattainable and unhealthy, enter our minds and plague our thoughts? Why do women, especially those who have gone through pregnancy, do this to other women? Shame on me, shame on us.

I understand that some people might read this and think, "gosh she's over-sensitive about this."  I have always been concerned, yes, about the body-type guidelines that we as a society deem "normal."  However, I have become a little more aware during my pregnancy.  I'm not sure what my response is going to be--I'm not radical or extreme about much.  Should I gently correct someone who makes an ill-thought-out comment?  I think that might be better than becoming red-faced and loud and saying, "where the hell did you get your MD from?" or "I saw how much mayo you slopped on that cheeseburger!"  Yet, I also think a more gentle notification is better than letting comments slide.

I did not look like Jessica Alba before pregnancy and I'm not going to look like her after, either. She had her baby and I will have mine. Thank goodness though; I really like my red hair and freckles.

No, Mr. UPS man, I am not having twins. I'm sorry that you, like so many others, including myself, have cultured ignorance.  I hope that I have the courage next time to tell you, in some kind way, that you might keep the word "twin" to yourself and just say, "I hope she has your pretty smile."

I hope that post-pregnancy my mouth will only utter these words to another pregant lady: "you look beautiful."

I'm going to go eat a peach now and maybe have a scoop of vanilla ice cream later and hope that the day's earlier indigestion doesn't return.