A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sizing Things Up; or, Brand New Body

A changing relationship with our bodies (and body-image) is one of the central aspects of the experience of pregnancy, and yet I've written very little about it. Partly, that's because when I'm feeling down I don't want to come across as a whiner or as ungrateful and when I'm feeling up I don't want to come across as gloating. But there's a lot more to this evolving relationship with ourselves than just weight gain. A few recent events have highlighted that more than ever.

Two-thirds of the way through my second trimester (wow!), I'm feeling fairly strong and healthy and great. None of that first tri nausea, bloating, discomfort, and exhaustion. I wake up refreshed--even if I don't get enough sleep--and feel ready to physically and emotionally tackle the day.

It's hard sometimes to remember that I am under an unusual physical strain, and because of that, I often overtire myself. Last week, for instance, I decided it would be a grand idea to take a 30+ block walk from the restaurant where I met a friend for lunch to a midtown department store where I planned to buy new bras. To put this in perspective, 20 NYC blocks is roughly one mile. Being a New Yorker, I walk a lot and a trip of this length is really no big deal--I have frequently walked much farther than that, especially during the summer.

Of course, it was also mid-day and 98 degrees. Which feels like 115 when you're surrounded by pavement and bodies and glass buildings. Despite the bottle of water I diligently sipped during the walk, I was sweaty and exhausted before I reached my destination. And yet after that leg of my shopping trip was over, I continued running errands, hopping a subway down to the West Village to take care of ordering my sister's wedding gift and meandering around shady but circuitous streets for forty minutes. By the time I returned home, it was all I could do to crawl to the couch.

And about that bra-buying expedition: I'd put off buying any new bras until that point. I hadn't wanted to spend money on new bras at 15 weeks only to have to buy more at 24, so I was almost 23 weeks by the time I bought any. I'd been wearing my 34 B-cup bras on the widest settings for several months.

Turns out, I'm now a 36 D. After I picked my jaw up off the floor and selected a few cheap, comfortable, underwire-free bras in my new size, I was able to reflect on the fact that squeezing the girls into a bra two sizes too small probably had a lot to do with the massive red underwire welts that had start appearing on either side. No bueno.

Walking too fast, turning in the wrong way, or certain yoga moves all have the potential to set off a bout of sciatic nerve pain (which three weeks ago rendered me immobile for three days). I'm lucky enough to have never suffered a serious or chronic injury or dealt with long-term pain (something for which I'm newly grateful), and it's strange to have to be so physically careful.

Ultimately that's what this post is about: not that I worry I'm gaining too much weight or too little (both of which have applied at different points in the pregnancy) or that I feel I'm no longer attractive or am even more attractive (both of which I have also felt) or that I dislike being uncomfortable or love feeling physical proof that Smudgie is growing and that I'm pregnant.

Simply put, this is the first time as an adult that I've had to reacquaint myself with my body, and it's a disorienting and alienating experience. I don't like or dislike my new body--or rather, I like some things about it and dislike others. It's strange, both from the inside and the outside, to identify it as mine.


  1. This is a great post. Congrats on the new bras! xoxo

  2. You know, I've been feeling the same exact way. Sometimes I feel great and think I look great and then others I just look like a frumpy preggo. I worry constantly about gaining too much and yet will eat another cookie anyway. I'm really struggling with how my thights have somehow become pregnant and not just my belly. Why on earth did those blimp up so fast and so big?

    Yay for the new bras! I'm still in my original ones b/c I'm an A-cup and, hey, I barely filled the A-cup out before. Now they fit just right ;).

    As for pushing too hard, that's totally me, too. I do too much and end up so tired and so sore. I'm having sciatic pains down the oleft side of my leg (been there since week 12) and it's SO painful. I've had 3 knee sugeries and this is till one of the weirdest and painful things for me b/c it just won't go away no matter the stretching or exercises I do. Just sucking it up for the nugget!

  3. Super post. I''ve read your blog for a while now and have been captivated by your journey. I'm 11 weeks pregnant and you cleverly expressed the feelings I have about my own changing body. I look down at my bizarrely bloated chest and think 'how very odd'. (I live in NY and know the 98 degree day you are referring to - top effort!!).

  4. The best is when the bump gets really big, and you simply forget that it's there-- so you turn around and whack it into people or doorways, or you try to 'quickly slip by' someone, and end up causing a huge commotion! It's pretty funny.

  5. EXACTLY!!! I've bitched (sometimes harcore) about my issues w/ gaining weight, but this really hits it for me.

    I feel weird and alien and when I look in the mirror, it takes a second of searching for "me" before I realize that the reflection IS me. It's a bizarre feeling.

    And, LMAO @ what Lesley said - that has happened to me a couple times recently. He's growing so fast and geting so far out in frotn of me, I don't know my own dimensions anymore. And I was a klutz to begin with. I laugh every time...and hope I haven't bumped the baby's head. LOL

  6. Heh, heh, wait till the the 3T! Then the belly gets really crazy (it's fun!).

  7. Great post.

    I particularly relate to the "doing too much" part. The weekend before I was put on bedrest I went to Costco, organized our basement storage unit (yeah, what?), swam at the gym for 15 minutes, and went to a hip restaurant for din and stoically waited 1 hour for a table at crowded bar where no one offered me a seat. And then I got put on bedrest the next morning and while EVERY DOCTOR assured me it had nothing to do with that weekend of activities (and the truth is, there were many weekends like that, and I was working 50+ hours a week on my feet, and commuting to work thru snowstorms....and and and...), I will forever replay everything I did that weekend. (Le sigh.) So please do take it easy, however you can. Not b/c I think you're going to hurt yourself or the baby, but b/c you are totally and completely pregnant and your body is already working VERY hard, and you DO DO DO need the rest, my friend!

    As for the body stuff....oh yes. Oddly, I experiencing it much more now that I'm post-partum. I will forever remain in complete awe over what my body accomplished and I find it fascinating to see how it has changed my body and how my body is bouncing back. It's totally a trip! xoxo

  8. Well said! It's not that I really dislike my new body...it just doesn't feel like ME. It's so foreign. Every move I make has a different outcome than it used to. Very weird.

  9. Great post, Sloper. I found the whole body image thing way too complex to put into words while I was pregnant but you did it really well. It just doesn't feel like the you you're used to and it's been taken over a bit by an alien. A welcome alien, but an alien nonetheless. It got even weirder for me at 38 weeks.

  10. I enjoyed reading this post. I felt this way for some time and just was afraid to put it out there. Can I tell you that I had such a tough time finding bras (I'm not even telling you what size) that I've been wearing my original bras with an extender until last week? EEK!

    I also enjoyed reading about shopping in NYC. It's been a couple of years since I've been (and used to go several times a year) and miss it very much.