I'm learning that pregnant girls find themselves in a lot of strange situations.
Sometimes that looks like public vomiting. Sometimes you pee your pants (I'm told). Sometimes there’s crying over cooking shows and utter stoicism while shopping for newborn leggings. Sometimes a sweet lady at church says, “you look so beautiful,” and you respond, “really, cause with these boobs I actually feel like I should be shooting a Nicki Minaj album cover.” It’s a crap shoot, really; there is no telling what each day holds for the gestating.
Sometimes you even feel fat.
Just a few weeks ago a nurse highlighted my own recent weight gain. I was at the hospital being treated for absolutely nothing. (Because sometimes you go the hospital for legitimate reasons and leave with a diagnosis of Pregnant, these things happen). So my nurse, he was roughly 25, on the scrawny, I'm-in-a-band side, and wearing scrubs that looked like electrified avocado. Due to some overcrowding that evening he took my weight in the triage area. This gave us an audience.
He looked at my doctor’s records, took my weight, looked down again at the records, then cheered, “You go girl.” My weight flashed in kilograms. I smiled a weird, clenchy smile. He asked, “You wanna see that in pounds?”
From August til November I consumed approximately 3 bowls of cereal and 6 fruit smoothies. And that is all. Morning sickness left me looking like a junkie: frail, wild-eyed, androgynous. My doctor recommended I gain thirty pounds over the course of the pregnancy. She emphasized at each visit, over the course of the pregnancy. You see where this is going.
From mid November to New Years I gained over 80% of my recommended total. With four more months of pregnancy still ahead. This girl has been going alright.
But the truth is I don’t think a pregnant body is an unattractive body. And I don’t want this to be the turning point in my psyche when suddenly fat grams and waist measurements become of vital importance. I am deeply grateful for a body that can support the life of a child, including all the necessary growing and stretching.
The other part of the truth is, I look at my summer clothes and I think about the three weddings just months away and the two sets of family portraits scheduled, and I feel….I feel like I want to hide.
The truth is complicated.
I can choose to spend most of this year feeling like an unimpressed traveler in my own body. Mirrors could turn me into a mean girl. It would be so easy to sink into the ugly narrative already forming in my head…I am going to be fat in May. I am going to be fat all summer long. When I button my shorts a jiggly muffin top will topple out. When I sit, my thighs will mushroom then congeal, creating one monstrous heap of soft flesh. My butt will be both flat and flabby, a cruel combination, and probably peppered with cellulite. Tank tops will not forgive the sausage like masses where there once lived biceps. I will wave, my arms will flap. After I have this baby, I am going to be very fat.
Whether we have less than five or more than fifty pounds to lose, when it comes to our bodies we are the judge, jury and executioner but it’s our loved ones who face the severest penalty based on our verdict. When I sit awkwardly to the side at my friends’ weddings refusing to eat or dance, sneaking sugar free Lifesavers and downing Diet Coke because the meal looked too creamy and my Spanx make dancing painful, who feels like I am not celebrating their marriage? When I never get the babies to bed early to slip this new, bigger bod into something small and lacy on an ordinary Tuesday, but instead dress like I’m mourning this unruly shell, draped in some strange funeral garb of baggy shirts and men’s basketball shorts, who is left wondering if their wife cares anymore? If I punish my body with words and deny it Orange Honey ice cream splits with my two year old, and cheeseburgers on the fourth of July, what children will be learning from their mother that a flawless body is the only type tolerated?
Deciding I’m fat comes at a price too steep for me. I will leave the hospital in April being ALL ABOUT THAT BASS, and probably all about a whole lot more too, but I can’t leave fat, it’s not worth it.
I made a decision just days ago, as my doctor typed in front of me Reviewed again with patient appropriate weight gain and nutritional decisions. I’ve decided no matter how much more this girl goes til baby comes, I am going to be fearless.
Fearless would look a lot like being fit, I think. I won’t be afraid of kale smoothies even when what I really want is another handful of something Flammin Hot. I won’t be afraid of the dark, I’ll wake up in it and head to my favorite yoga studio. I’ll say yes to walks with my husband, to pushing my son on his favorite swing. I will allow my body to recover from the hard work of making a baby by feeding it well, pushing it gently, giving it room to settle in to a new shape. After all, I have babies to chase and carry, and a husband to adventure with; I want to keep up.
Fearless also looks a lot like being fun. I will wear shorts all summer long because it is hot here, and I like the way the sun feels on my legs. I will dance at each wedding, even if my arms dance too, and I will eat the cake my friends chose to celebrate their new life. I will show my son what a s’more tastes like. I will delight in the daughter who came from this body and who needs to grow up with a women comfortable in her own skin. I will not hide my stomach like it’s the crazy uncle in the attic, only to be brought out on holidays for quick meals when no one is around. I will not stand in the back for photos or only remark on my face chub when they get framed and hung.
I will not call myself fat. I will challenge myself to get fit. I will allow myself to have fun. I will call myself fearless. By fall, maybe I will be.
I can almost picture October, me at a yoga studio, still a little stiff and out of shape, rolling out my mat next to the inevitable co-eds. They will be as they always are, sleek and shiny, everything just where it should be. It is good to be twenty. I will Utkatasana right beside them, a sweaty mess, with Puffs and baby puke rolling off me. I’ll be showing up in this body that has certainly shown up for me. It is kind of badass to be thirty.
I will take a page out of the Queen herself’s book. Come summer, I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.
Written by April Hoss. Photo by Illuminest Photography.