It is happening again.
This morning, I stepped into one of my favorite pair of jeans, gifted to me by my sister-in-law last Christmas. As usual, I did a wiggle, then a hop, then pulled them up as far as my thighs before they refuse to budge.
Oh Lord. Already?
I am only 10 weeks pregnant. And my body is in the early stages of rebellion.
Understand, this is not my first rodeo. I have an adorable two-year-old son who was born at a whopping 7 pounds 15 ounces. I gained a total of about 40 pounds throughout my first pregnancy (due in part to the fact that I ate a chocolate glazed donut every day of my third trimester.) So I know how this works. Gaining weight is part of the process. So too are the nausea, stretch marks, hormone changes, acne outbreaks, ligament stretching, incessant peeing and basically anything else atypical or abnormal that never happened before you became a host to a miniature human. It is both a blessing and a curse for women to be sure. A sign that our bodies are doing their most important work – growing precious little ones – and a testament to the fact that we will never, ever be the same.
I struggle to embrace the beauty and mystery of it this time around. All I want to do is sleep, all day, every day. Smells make me queasy – all of them as a matter of fact. I gagged at least a dozen times while making my son's dinner last night. And of notable importance, there is a kid here already this time. One who still wants his mommy to get down on the floor and play with cars. One who still needs a bath every night. One who has to be lifted, all 34-pounds of him, to get into his car seat (a feat that is becoming more and more challenging every day.)
My husband, a pro now, is so knowing and attentive. He can gauge my mood from just a glance. Or a phone call. Yesterday, when he calls to check on me from work, he tells me sweetly, "You sound like you're either tired or you feel like crap. Which is it?" He brings home Diet Coke and doesn't judge. He asks what I've eaten for dinner when the truth is I never want to eat ever again because I am convinced this baby genuinely dislikes food. Or hates me. I'm still deciding.
I started going to the gym the week after seeing those two pink lines on the pregnancy test. I read online (thanks Dr. Google) that exercise can help with digestion issues during pregnancy and that lingering feeling of overall crappiness in the first trimester. My doctor applauded me for being so healthy. My husband was impressed.
“Yes, Chaka Khan,” I thought to myself proudly. “I am every woman!”
I’d been through this before. I was smarter. Wiser. I wouldn’t make the same mistakes of binging on whatever I wanted and gaining a boatload of weight that would take me a year to get off. This time would be different. This time, I was in control.
So two weeks into baby number two, I began dragging myself to LA Fitness every morning around 8 a.m., forcing my body onto the elliptical machine and willing my legs to move until my playlist was done. Surprisingly, it worked. I felt a lot better. More like myself. I felt healthier, and I had more energy to face the day.
Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that because I was doing all the right things – eating healthy and working out – that God would be kind to me, and make me like one of the #fitmoms I stalk on Instagram who only gain 20 pounds their entire pregnancy and still have abs and toned arms and beautiful, healthy babies. All was going well. I was actually beginning to think maybe I could get through the summer pregnant and manage to look like a seal, a very toned seal, and not a whale, at the beach.
Except I couldn't pull my jeans up this morning.
This was not part of the plan. I was supposed to be able to keep wearing my normal jeans until well into my second trimester. My belly bands were already prepped and ready. Friends and family were supposed to come up to me and comment that I didn't even look pregnant. I was already practicing mentally what I'd tell them when they asked for my secret.
Well, you know, I do light cardio five times a week and really watch what I eat. I’m definitely making smarter choices this time around.
Instead, today I noticed that my hips are spreading, and my poor confused thighs (being the followers they are) are doing the same. My breasts? Ballooning. And today, as I stood, jeans hanging around my knees in defeat, I reached the slow but life-altering realization that I will never have the satisfaction of being "all belly." My body is such an equal opportunity lover that it is evenly distributing my pregnancy weight everywhere.
I expected it, hey welcomed it. At 20 weeks maybe. 30 for sure. Definitely not 10.
I want to ask God why I can't just lay an egg. Seriously.
But as I sit in the parking lot of the gym this morning, wondering whether I have the fortitude to push through 30 minutes of pedaling on the hamster wheel and whether it even matters since in a few more months I'll look like a cow anyway, I remember.
The first time I felt my son kick. How I knew his sleep habits from the womb. How right I was that he would be a good eater (he is!). How long walks and the rhythm of my heartbeat lulled him to sleep in the afternoon. How he was a part of me, changing me, long before he ever made his debut into the world.
I remember the moment the nurse put him in my arms after the doctor pulled him from my body, still covered in fluid. How he cried uncontrollably but calmed when he heard my voice because he knew me just like I knew him. I pray I never forget the warmth of his body on my bare skin. How he opened his perfect little mouth, eyes still closed, and turned toward my breast to nurse instantly. I remember watching him at night as he slept, and the very odd feeling of an empty belly.
The reality is there is a part of myself, ourselves, that we never get back with every pregnancy. We give away a piece of ourselves, body and soul, to our babies. Everything changes because pregnancy changes us. And even if you’re unlike me and blessed to still fit your jeans during your pregnancy, and even if you never experience morning sickness or get a stretch mark (you freak of nature, you), the truth remains: you will never be the same.
My body has been home to this baby for just 10 weeks. And already, it's happening. Again. And even though I will miss my skinny jeans terribly, and my waistline, and my flat belly, and seeing my toes (let’s face it, I won’t be getting my sexy back any time soon), I know what's to come is exponentially more valuable than my own vanity. And totally, undeniably worth the weight.
Guest post written by Christina Kposowa, a recovering perfectionist on a journey to joy. A wife and mother of two adorable boys, her world revolves around faith, family and stubborn dreams. To follow more of Christina's adventures, check out her blog at www.thisjoyoushome.com or follow her on Instagram or Facebook.