The mom-to-be grabs her favorite pants out of the closet and begins to put them on. She makes it to her mid-section before everything comes to a grinding halt. No amount of tugging will get the fabric over her stomach, which appears to have popped out literally overnight. Was it possible to grow an entire size in 24 hours?
You want the truth about the “alien” inside of you? I think you can handle it.
There is a quintessential image of a pregnant woman that is rosy and glowing, perhaps slightly rounded but not alarmingly so. The good news: this picture is something you can look forward to during pregnancy. The bad news: this is only a part of the transformation you will experience during that time.
When you become pregnant, your body is not your own. Remember when you first had to share space constantly with another person – maybe a sibling, a college roommate, your spouse? There is a bit of adjustment and compromise that is necessary in close quarters. When you are pregnant these concessions include not eating or drinking anything without considering its impact on your baby, enduring morning sickness, falling asleep standing up and by 6pm, and an ever-increasing waistline requiring the somewhat unfortunate acquisition of maternity clothes. (Of course, pregnancy-related changes aren’t all bad – there are also awesome hair-and-nails side effects from those kickass prenatal vitamins, a freedom about your figure that is elusive otherwise, and of course, experiencing firsthand the miracle of creating and sustaining life.)
As your pregnancy progresses, each trimester is marked by a specific physicality. The first trimester may feel fairly surreal, since typically you aren’t showing yet – at least, if this is your first pregnancy. (In subsequent pregnancies the instant your pregnancy test is positive you will bust the button on your jeans and grow exponentially from there). The second trimester tends to be marked by the “rosy glow” phenomenon, as you are clearly pregnant-looking but not huge, and still able to move through your life with relative ease.
The last trimester is the doozy. When you reach that final stretch time slows down markedly, but the scale just keeps on trucking. You may see signs that you are going to be in trouble at this point, like if you reach what feels like a perfect final size and weight at the six months mark. (During which time perfect strangers will comment on your physique with an excited “When are you due?” clearly anticipating that you plan to deliver that week. Once disabused of this notion there will be an awkward pause, interrupted finally with a follow-up question: “Are you having twins?”) As the final countdown to your new life begins you just get bigger and bigger . . . defying all commonsense and anything your pre-pregnancy brain and life would have allowed.
The feeling that an actual alien is inside of you becomes pronounced during this trimester. My son enjoyed doing acrobatics in my belly during this time, making for an entertaining show of stomach ripples as he whipped around. Things got really weird one night when my husband saw the outline of a little foot on my stomach – and grabbed it. He was able to hold on for a few stunned seconds before letting go. We were all a little freaked out by that one, including the baby who stopped his circus shenanigans for the rest of the night.
At one point I felt like there was no way I could possibly get any bigger without exploding. I had reached the generous pregnancy weight gain number I had allowed for myself on the front end – but still had several weeks to go in my pregnancy. So I stopped looking at the scale at my appointments, preferring instead to check out the posters and informative flyers on the exam room wall while humming The Beach Boys’ Don’t Worry Baby. A fun strategy until I checked into the hospital to deliver and was asked what my weight was at my last OB appointment, and I had to clarify that I knew what it was at my last appointment when I looked. Not really instilling a ton of confidence in my impending parenting skills, I clarified with the explanation that it had started getting depressing so I just stopped hearing the number.
(Yeah, you are going to be a GREAT mom, lady . . .)
Spending nine months feeling like an alien is growing inside of you can be thrilling but also daunting. Pregnancy requires an enormous physical adjustment for a gender that can be obsessed with size and weight, but the truth is, when you are having a baby a few extra pounds is the very least significant thing that you stand to gain.
Want to get a better handle on the “alien” growing inside of [pregnant] you? Check out these recommendations from the Mayo Clinic about healthy weight gain during pregnancy, relax about the issue with this throwback jam from The Beach Boys, and just be glad that your delivery won’t look like this scene from Alien.