Body Image in Pregnancy

I wanted to talk a little bit about pregnancy body image. I know it’s a topic that’s been covered ad nauseum, but I’m in it, so I’m gonna talk about it.

To be perfectly honest, I was really scared that pregnancy would cause me to gain a ton of weight and feel really bad about myself. I already tend toward the negative self-image side of things, and worried that gaining pregnancy weight would make that worse. We all know women who had a tough time with what happened to their bodies while carrying their babies. And really, there’s very little one can do about the body changes that come along with pregnancy. Some women experience terrible morning sickness or aversions and aren’t able to maintain the healthy diets they had pre-pregnancy Some women just gain more weight than others regardless of what they’re eating or how they’re moving their bodies. And pretty much ALL women gain weight during pregnancy.

Mercifully, I have felt really, really good thus far. I’ve been gaining weight on the “ideal” timeline, and have received nothing but generous, lovely comments about how healthy I look and how well I’m carrying. While compliments are great and all (I sure do love hearing that I’m “all baby”), what matters is how I FEEL. And I actually feel great. I still get a little anxious every time I step on the scale at my prenatal appointments, especially as the number inches ever closer to that 200 pound mark, but on the whole, I’m coping really well.

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I don’t feel “fat.” I don’t feel scared that I’ll never get back to pre-baby weight or pre-baby body. I don’t worry that I won’t be able to lift as much or run as fast as I did before. I truly believe that getting into the best shape of my life with running and CrossFit before getting pregnant has helped me have a healthy weight gain and healthy pregnancy. Sure, I haven’t been as active as I’d imagined I would be (thank you ligament pain and light-headedness), but I’ve done my best. I’ve been eating decently and drinking a ton of water and I just feel a sort of supreme confidence that my body is doing what it needs to do right now, and I can worry about the after AFTER.

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Rocket isn’t a fan of the belly cause there’s less lap room for him.

Perhaps this confidence is simply ignorance, but I’m trying to take it for what it is right now. I have no idea what the postpartum period will hold in terms of body image, but I’m doing my best to place ZERO expectations on myself to “bounce back” on any particular timeline. Above all, I want the initial weeks after our baby is born to be ones focused on bonding as a family and allowing my body to heal, rather than time spent stressing about when I can get back to the gym and whether or not I’ll ever fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. Sure, I miss running and CrossFit, but I miss them because of how they make me feel, not because I’m anxious to lose weight, and I know they’ll always be there for me when I’m ready to come back.

Mamas out there, how did pregnancy make you feel about your body?

35 Week Pregnancy Update

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As is perhaps evidenced by this week’s bump shot (pajamas, messy bun, and Crocs), I am nearing the “I am so effing done being pregnant get this baby outta me!” stage. I’m not QUITE there, but I’m approaching it.

We had a bit of a scare this week. Recently Baby Girl’s movements have been nearly constant and super vigorous, but on Thursday, things were just… different. She wasn’t moving nearly as often, or as strongly, and all of the movements I felt were in a totally different place than usual. I made it through Thursday day without freaking out, but sent myself into a paranoid tailspin overnight, hardly sleeping and striving to feel the tiniest movements in my belly for reassurance. I finally called the triage nurses at my practice on Friday morning, and they suggested I come in for a non-stress test just to set my mind at ease. While I was feeling movement by then, it still wasn’t what I had come to consider “normal.”

A non-stress test basically just means they hook you up to a fetal heart rate monitor for 20 minutes or so and keep an eye on baby’s heart rate. And of course, I felt more movement in the 30 minutes I was at the hospital than I had the previous 24 hours. And she resumed “normal” movement the rest of the day. Nurse Mickey assured me that they do these kinds of “just in case” tests all the time, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. I couldn’t agree more! I just kept imagining all the what-if scenarios, and how awful it would be if something truly were wrong and I chose not to get checked out just because I didn’t want to feel silly. The reassurance of hearing her steady little heartbeat for 30 minutes was well worth any embarrassment I might have felt. And I was able to sleep soundly on Friday night because of it!

On the good news front, I took Thursday morning off and used the time to do lots of tasks that have been on my to-do list for a while. It felt AMAZING. I believe this is probably the early stages of the nesting phase I’ve heard so much about. I made a gigantic list of everything I/we need to do before baby comes and just went to town. We now have a lactation consultant and pediatrician, we’re pre-registered with Labor & Delivery at the hospital, I bought a new camera, and made an appointment to get the AC in our Honda fixed. It’s been broken for at least three years, but with a summer baby on the way, it couldn’t wait anymore.

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New toy!

I also finished packing my hospital bag, so I’m basically ready any time. While I’d prefer that Baby Girl stays in until at least 38 weeks, if she came tomorrow, I certainly wouldn’t be upset about it. Especially because it would clear up this f*cking carpal tunnel. And get me out of work.

 

34 Week Pregnancy Update

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Six weeks to go! WHAT? HOW? I don’t even know…

Hoo, boy. REAAAALLY feeling pregnant these days. The most frustrating/annoying symptom I’m experiencing right now is the carpal tunnel. Symptoms are getting progressively worse, meaning I’m losing more and more feeling in my fingers each day, and my hands are weak and painful doing menial tasks like clipping my fingernails or hooking/unhooking my bra. I also wake up multiple times a night because one or both hands is completely numb. Supposedly wearing wrist braces at night can help, but I’m reluctant to spend the money right now. If things continue to get worse, I may cave and buy some.

Otherwise, it’s third-trimester business as usual. My feet and hands are a little bit swollen, but not enough that a casual observer would notice. I’m quite tired. My right hip still gives me pain at night, but chiropractic care seems to help. Occasional heart burn and indigestion are still a thing, and bending over is no longer an option. Dropped items often stay on the floor until I can convince someone else (ahem, Ben) to pick them up for me. Retrieving items from the floor is usually accompanied by lots of grunting. We had another prenatal appointment this week, which was also very business as usual. We listened to baby’s heartbeat, measured my belly, chatted a bit, and that was that.

Our childbirth education classes continue to be very informative and enjoyable. This week’s class was focused a lot on non-medicinal comfort techniques, so there was a lot of relaxing and massage. Not too shabby! We also had our one-off newborn care class on Sunday. It was taught by my prenatal yoga teacher, and it was very helpful. We practiced things like diapering, dressing, and holding a baby using dolls. We also played with different types of baby carriers, and talked about soothing techniques. I already knew a lot of it, but most of it was brand new for Ben, so it’s nice to have a shared base of knowledge before baby comes home.

Remember the lactation consultant from last week’s update? She never got back to me, which is pretty annoying. That sort of indicates to me that maybe she’s not super on the ball, and maybe I don’t want to work with her after all. Back to the drawing board on that one…

I have started packing my hospital bag, which is quite exciting. I just need to pick up a few more items (a robe and some nursing tanks), and then I think I’ll be ready. I know it’s pretty early to be too worried about it yet, but you truly never know when your baby might decide to come into the world, and my Type-A self wants to be prepared. I would have made a GREAT Boyscout!

Mamas and daddies out there, did you have experience with babies before you had kids? 

33 Week Pregnancy Update

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According to my Ovia Pregnancy App, Baby Girl is the size of a ferret.

Another week bites the dust! Baby Girl continues to squirm and kick almost constantly. A cool new thing is that apparently now she keeps her eyes open while she’s awake, and her bones are starting to harden up.

No big changes for me this week. The numbness in my fingers and hands (aka pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome) is pretty consistent, and while it’s annoying, I can live with it. I’ve had a few more bouts of very uncomfortable gastric issues, but nothing too awful. Thankfully, I finally got back to the chiro after a full week off (I was on vacation, and then she was on vacation), which has continued to help with my hip pain. I’m not 100% better, but I’m definitely much more comfortable. And with the lovely spring weather we’ve been having, Ben and I have been able to take more regular walks, which helps with both the hip pain and the numb fingers.

Now that the shower has come and gone, we pretty much have all the essentials. I feel confident that if we had to bring a baby home tomorrow, we’d be fine. Obviously, there’s still tons of stuff we need to do, but at least we have the major health and safety items, as well as plenty of clothing. My god, do we have plenty of clothing! I have an entire hamper of clothes that have been washed and just need to be put away, and I have the diaper bag mostly packed to bring to the hospital. Now Ben and I just need to get our personal bags together and we’ll be ready!

We had our breastfeeding class this week, as well as our first childbirth education class. The breastfeeding class was only ok. The instructor was pretty scatterbrained, jumping around from topic to topic without a clear structure, which I found both frustrating and comical. I can tell she’s super knowledgeable and really cares, but I think maybe one-on-one is more her strong suit. I looked her up and she’s highly qualified and well-recommended, and actually one of the in-network lactation consultants I get unlimited (yes, unlimited-we have great insurance!) visits with after birth, so I emailed her after class to start that process.

The childbirth education class, however, was AWESOME. It was the first of a four week series. We love the instructor, the other couples in the class are cool and nice, and I feel like I’ve already learned a lot. It actually made me excited to give birth, which is kind of strange, but there you have it! We’re really looking forward to the remaining classes. In case you’re in the greater Burlington, Vermont area and curious, we did the breastfeeding class with Sally through Evolution Prenatal and Family Yoga, and the childbirth education series is with Rachel through Birth Journeys.

On the work front, I have all of my training materials in order and I’m mostly caught up on projects. I just have a few more things to wrap up and then I will be ready to focus on training my replacement. This month is going to be VERY interesting, and will most likely fly by. My team is only 7 people including me, and there are a LOT of vacations/time out of the office. One colleague was out the first week of May, another has been out since the 3rd and will be out until the 17th. Then a third colleague is going on a cruise from the 18th through the 25th. And then the entire rest of the team except for me is going to the annual conference from the 21st through the 25th, meaning I will literally be the only member of my team in the office for that week. I have my trainee the 15th through the 21st, then she goes on a pre-planned vacation until the 31st. And then I’m out June 8th. And that doesn’t even count the 3.5 vacation days I still have to use up somewhere between now and then. Crazy!

Have you ever heard of pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel? I hadn’t, and it stinks!

32 Week Pregnancy Update

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Best friend Mandy at 36 weeks, me at 32 weeks

According to my Ovia Pregnancy app, Baby Girl is the size of an armadillo.

As you can see, I switched the “size” theme on my app from “Fruits and Vegetables” to “Weird But Cute Animals.” The fruits and vegetables were just getting strange and not very helpful. I mean, what the hell is a Pomelo, amiright? Anyway… Woah, Nelly! Eight(ish) weeks to go! Time is seriously flying right now.

Nothing new is going on in the realm of baby development. She’s still just gaining weight to get ready for birth. Her movements are definitely less sharp and more like rolls and stretches as she starts running out of room. It is still INCREDIBLY odd to feel a tiny being moving around inside me, but every little squirm is a lovely reassurance that all is well. I know I say this pretty much every week, but she’s moving a lot more these days, and it’s really cool.

A new, somewhat scary symptom I developed this week is numbness in some fingertips. I also wake up several times a night with one or both hands completely numb. I was pretty freaked out by this, but according to the midwives at my practice, this is yet another totally normal symptom that should go away after delivery. Fun fun! I’ve also had some really bad heartburn/indigestion a few times, which was not helped by Baby Girl kicking/pushing directly up into my sternum. Ouch!

When I came back from vacation, I found out that my work replacement has been hired, and she starts May 15. This has absolutely lit a fire under my butt to get cracking and really finish up any extraneous projects before she starts so we can just focus on training. I’ve got all my training documents ready to go, I just need to put together a binder and maybe some sort of schedule so that I make sure we touch on everything. As of this week, I only have six weeks left at work, which is totally surreal.

We had another regular, bi-weekly checkup with the midwives this week as well. Unfortunately, Ben couldn’t come because it was mid-morning, but he honestly didn’t miss much. A blood pressure check, a heartbeat check, a few questions, and I was back to work. The midwife on call was fairly certain that she’s head down, ready to go, which is a relief. Now I just hope she stays there!

My mom and one of my younger sisters also threw a baby shower for me on Saturday. As I said in last Friday’s post, I’m not really into the super girly, over-the-top shower thing, and they did a great job with making it special but not pukey. There were about 20 attendees representing friends and family, and we got LOTS of love. Now I need to sort and wash and put everything away. And do thank you notes. Ugh! And of course, I took pretty much zero pictures because I was just trying to spend time with everyone, but here are a few of the decorations before everyone arrived.

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Mamas, did you experience numbness in your fingers/hands during pregnancy?

Pregnancy Update: Weeks 30 and 31

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According to my Ovia Pregnancy app, Baby Girl is the size of a cantaloupe.

I just have to laugh at the WILDLY inconsistent sizing this app uses. Last week she was a pineapple, and most pineapples I’ve seen are larger than most cantaloupes I’ve seen. Every week Ben and I have a giggle at the expense of the app-makers who picked these food comparisons…

Anyway, in approximately 10 weeks we get to meet our baby girl. Holy crap! The crazy thing is, it could be even less time, if she decides to make her grand entrance early. I know the conventional wisdom is that first-time moms usually go long, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. I’m hoping Baby Girl decides to stay inside and bake for the full 40 weeks, but who knows?

Various apps suggest that our little girl is still between 15-17 inches tall and between 3-4 pounds. She’s still mostly just working on gaining body fat, and also developing eyesight. As she gets more body fat to keep her warm, she’ll start to shed the lanugo (fine downy hair) currently covering her entire body.

We had yet another prenatal appointment this week. Every two weeks seems to happen very quickly! This was a very “business as usual” visit, although I’m starting to ask a lot of the questions I have regarding what D-Day is actually going to be like: standard operating procedures, who will/won’t be in the delivery room, etc. I have a MILLION questions, but I know a lot of them will be answered in our upcoming childbirth education classes, so I’m trying to just ask a few key questions at each appointment. We also got our preregistration paperwork and the paperwork to get Baby Girl’s social security card and birth certificate. Shit’s getting real!

Symptoms are more of the same. General fatigue, tight, itchy skin, and difficulty sleeping due to hip pain. It actually got so bad a few times this week that I was limping. I finally caved and made a chiropractor appointment for next week. Dr. Shelley Crombach came highly recommended by my friend Aimee, and my midwife also went to her for her pregnancies, so I’m really hoping she’ll be able to reduce the pain I’m experiencing in my right hip and help me get some decent sleep.

A coworker gave me two big bags of maternity clothes this week, and I actually made out like a bandit. Two t-shirts, two tanks, a three-quarter sleeve top, a sweater, a bra, and a pair of jeans! All free! Woot! Even though I’ve now gone maternity shopping twice, I still didn’t have very much variety, and was starting to feel frustrated by my lack of options. I’m hoping that I can now cruise through the remaining 10 weeks without any additional purchases.

On Sunday I did a big clean/organize in the baby’s room, washing and putting away most of the clothing we have, shifting furniture, and putting large, unopened items in the basement until they are needed (car seat, pack ‘n’ play etc). We’ve still got lots of burp cloths, blankets, and other miscellany to wash and put away, but it’s starting to look pretty decent in there. I wish I’d taken before and after photos, because it was a real train wreck.

We’re also working on selecting a pediatrician, which feels like such a big deal. I know it’s not, really, because if we end up not liking our first pick we can just go elsewhere, but I still feel a lot of pressure. We’ve narrowed it down to one office that came highly recommended by friends, so now we just need to pick the actual doctor. Once we get that sorted out, I’m going to be feeling pretty good about where we are in terms of overall readiness.

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According to my Ovia Pregnancy app, Baby Girl is the size of a head of Romaine lettuce

Week 31 was a banner week! Ben and I were on vacation, spring came for a visit, and we got a lot of shit done.

On the homeownership front, we did a lot of outdoor maintenance. Ben took down a sick old fir tree in front of the house, while I trimmed a bunch of dead branches off the other fir and pine trees in the front yard. We also bought yet more stuff for the house, like a hose, a wheel barrow, and supplies to string a clothesline from the front porch to the fir tree stump. We’re planning to cloth diaper Baby Girl, and line-drying is highly recommended for the bleaching and bacteria-killing effects.

We also took lots of long walks on the rail trail. My ligament pain has finally gone away, but the pain in my right hip has become an all the time thing now instead of just a nighttime thing, so walking remains pretty uncomfortable. I started seeing a chiropractor this week and after a few adjustments, things are feeling better, but still not 100%. My doc is confident that continued adjustments will get me back to normal, though, so fingers crossed!

A new symptom that popped up this week is mild swelling in my fingers and feet. Thankfully, it’s hardly noticeable unless I’m trying to get my rings off. And I don’t have cankles yet, so I’m happy. Otherwise, it’s just more of the same third trimester symptoms I’ve had the last few weeks.

Baby Girl isn’t really doing much development other than putting on weight at this point. She’s very active in my belly, with lots of big pushes and swipes rather than little kicks, and we’ve had several more bouts of hiccups, which are still hilarious and adorable.

The baby shower is this coming weekend, so I’m hoping that we’ll get the last few big-ticket items like a stroller and cloth diapering supplies that will help us put the finishing touches on the baby’s room. And if not, that’s where Amazon Prime comes in, haha! Now that we’re into the 30’s on weeks, things seem a lot more real. We start childbirth education classes soon, and in a few weeks I start seeing my midwives every week. Aaahhh! I need to get cracking on that hospital bag, too.

Parents, when did you get that “Oh shit, this is REAL” feeling?

 

29 Week Pregnancy Update

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According to my Ovia Pregnancy app, Baby Girl is the size of a Hawaiian pineapple.

Look at that bump! Woah! There’s a baby in there, all right, and she is making herself known! According to the various apps I’m working with, Baby Girl is mostly fully formed at this point, and basically just packing on the pounds to get ready for birth. She’s anywhere from 15-16.5 inches tall and weighs anywhere from 2.5 to almost 4 pounds. I experienced baby hiccups for the first time this week, which was hilarious and adorable! And of course, it happened during savasana at prenatal yoga, when I was supposed to be relaxing. Baby Girl has a sense of humor, it seems.

The ever-growing bump is starting to present more challenges in the realm of basic getting around. Things like getting out of bed, feeding the cats, or putting on my shoes are way more difficult these days. I pretty much can’t get up without sound effects! It can be pretty frustrating to feel so physically limited, but I just try to remind myself that it’s natural and normal, and most of all, temporary.

In the symptoms department, not too much has changed. My skin is still super itchy, but no stretch marks yet. Sleeping is still rough because my right hip is giving me a lot of grief. I’m planning to make a chiropractic appointment soon to get some help. My hands are a little swollen, but nothing crazy, thank goodness. Mostly I just feel tired ALL THE TIME.

I’m feeling a lot less anxious about everything than I was a few weeks ago. I’m just trying to surrender myself to the unknown and focus on a “healthy baby, healthy” mom outcome. There’s only so much I can control, and worrying about it won’t change anything. We’ve got childbirth education classes starting next month, plus breastfeeding class and newborn care class, and the rest we’ll just have to figure out on our own. People have been having babies successfully for MILLENNIA, so I just need to cool my jets.

Have you ever felt in-utero baby hiccups?