This confession has been eating at me for some time now. In true-confession style, it fills me with tremendous guilt. It makes me feel weak and superficial. And to those of you who don't share my neurosis, I apologize. Because in admitting this hang-up I'm letting go of it. Truth is I wasn't cool about gaining weight. Why? Because as much as I enjoy eating. (And believe me. I enjoy eating.) I also enjoy exercising. And I've taken pleasure in the fact that I've been able to maintain my weight for many years by eating healthy and staying physically active. It's in no way an obsessive thing. It is, I admit, a control thing. And very little has compromised that control until now. For obvious reasons. I'm now 36 weeks pregnant. A rounder, bustier version of myself. A baby apartment with a tenant whose lease is up in four weeks.
I wish I could tell you that I was one of those girls who embraced getting bigger. Or at least one of those girls at peace with their bodily transformation. But it took me 36 weeks 30 pounds and some serious pregnancy pains to realize (as my mother says) that my body isn't mine right now. It's Henry's. For as much as I've kept a level head about most things baby-related, including the difficulty and unpredictability of labor followed by the difficulty and unpredictability of motherhood I've regarded my body with a rigorous and unforgiving attitude. A merciless iron-fistedness rooted in an inability to relinquish control in an area of my life that I've thus far been able to control. That's not to say that these measures haven't served me well. Since the day I learned I was pregnant I've slathered myself in cocoa butter. Why? Because I don't want stretch marks. And while there's no definitive proof that cocoa butter makes a lick of a difference in this department, I was willing to invest in the stuff for nine months. (So far I'm stretch mark-free.) I ran up until my 30th week. Why? Because I felt great. I had energy. The baby was still small and I wasn't ready to slow down. I refused to drop out of my regular yoga class and into a milder, less demanding prenatal yoga class. Why? Because I could still twist into a lotus position and kick up into a handstand. I avoided fast food, ate more fruits and veggies drank buckets of water and returned to eating chicken. Why? Because I needed to make up for my once-a-day coffee habit. I thought that by continuing on this path I'd avoid the third trimester waddle. I thought I'd be spared stabbing sciatic nerve pangs sleeplessness bruised ribs throbbing pelvic pain hormonal mood swings ravenous chocolate cravings Every cartoonish pregnancy cliche I could think of, I thought I could stave off. The naiveté! I entered my eighth month of pregnancy and in one humbling rush of relaxin I morphed into Pregzilla. And in the face of pain, I let my pride and vanity slide. The ailments I mentioned above? I got 'em all. Last week, I bowed out of regular yoga and slipped into the prenatal class next door. I know the teacher. She's been nudging me to make the jump for some time now. "Well, well" she said. "I'm glad to see that you're finally pregnant." I growled. Flashed my Pregzilla teeth. Blew smoke out my nostrils. I looked around the class. The two girls next to me were both due in three days. The teacher had us sitting on birthing balls. Spread eagle. We looked like snowmen. Balls stacked on top of balls. We were told to roll our hips from side to side and picture our pelvises widening. I pictured my pelvis breaking in two. Snapping like a wish bone. I pictured Elvis sweating on stage in his rhinestone jumpsuit Fat Elvis and his famous pelvis making big-haired ladies swoon even in his last days. We looked like Weebles. Roly-poly gyrating Weebles. "How you feeling?" The preggo next to me asked. "Bah," I grumbled. "My kid's foot is in my rib. I just got over bronchitis. My freakin tail bone is throbbing. I can't sleep at night and every time I sneeze I pee my pants." "I hear ya," she said. "You swollen?" I smiled. I hadn't thought about the fact that the Fluid Fairy had yet to sprinkle me with water retention. "No swelling," I said. "Check this out," she said, hiking up her yoga pants. Her legs were tree trunks. "Holy crap," I said. "Yeah," she sighed. "I've been this way since day one." "Does the yoga help?" I asked. "Sometimes," she said, letting out an exhausted half-chuckle. "You get used to it." It was in this moment that I realized, or rather appreciated, the weight we carry as women. It's the kind of weight you can't measure in pounds. And it's something I didn't fully appreciate until I got pregnant. The weight of responsibility, sacrifice and trust. The weight of acceptance. Because no matter how much we bathe in cocoa butter or how much time we devote to yoga, there's only so much we can control in pregnancy. In the end, we all end up on birthing balls aching to see our babies aching to see our toes Hoping our pelvises don't break in half and mastering the ancient art of sucking it up. --- PS. Top photo is of my sister Heelya rocking her little red high heels on Thanksgiving.