Confessions of a First Time Pregnant (and Big-Boned) Girl:
When you’re pregnant, everyone tells you about their experience with pregnancy. Some people hardly change their daily routine, while others change their entire world. Some women barely gain any weight, while others gain way too much. When I found out I was pregnant, it was a shocker! I was 28, in the middle of college. When I first found out, I lived in a one bedroom apartment and drove a beat up 97 Hyundai Elantra. How was I going to handle this? Will my relationship with Ric survive this? We had been together, but we weren’t even thinking about living together yet.
Needless to say, for the first few months that followed, I was utterly depressed. So much so, that I neglected myself and my body in a way that I didn’t even know existed. I was constantly overeating. By the end of my pregnancy, I had gained 70 lbs. The reason for this post is certainly not to shame anyone, but it’s meant to bring awareness to a part of pregnancy that so few people talk about. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that you are not alone and you will get through it.
The first thing I should’ve done was look at my family history. I come from a line of big-boned women. When the women in my family get pregnant, they really get big. Odds are, I would get big too, and I did.
Confession #1: Eating and Exercising
My average weight has always been between 145-165 lbs. Up until I became pregnant, I was pretty ok with this. I was no model, but I enjoyed having curves; I relished in the fact that I could eat ALMOST anything I wanted when I wanted it as long as I walked it off later. Since I loved the outdoors and had an active dog, it was easy to indulge in a few hours of hiking, walking, and climbing a few days a week. When I found out I was expecting it did not dawn on me that I will not have the energy to do these things anymore. Instead, I continued my gluttonous ways.
Most people tried to make you feel better about eating and gaining weight during these 10 months. It’s so easy for everyone to say that it’s ok to eat whatever you want…after all, you ARE pregnant, you’re eating for two. And, I won’t lie, you do feel so much better after you’ve eaten your second hot fudge sundae from Handel’s, but it’s important to remember that there will be a very dear price to pay. Once you’re pregnant, you’re not supposed to lose weight. So whatever pounds you pack on, stay there until the end. If you must binge eat, you better enjoy whatever it is to the fullest extent because I promise you, you will look at the after effects for many, many months to come.
In the mean time, here are a few uncomfortable truths:
- Women who are pregnant and can still find time and energy to exercise will unintentionally make you feel bad about yourself. You will secretly hate yourself more than you ever have before. But, you know what, that’s ok. While their exercising, go get yourself another hot fudge sundae…that will make you feel better…for today.
- For the first 5 months of my pregnancy I watched my motivation walk right out the door. I would still walk my dog but the trips were always cut short…shorter and shorter each time. I then found myself making the excuse that it’s too cold, it’s too dark, it’s too much…movement? The baby was clearly telling me that she was tired. Sadie would have to wait until tomorrow to go to the park. I then got so lazy that I would just put my dog in the front yard and throw the frisbee to her. The poor girl would then bring it back to me in anticipation of our old, fun game of “run around the yard”, just to find out that I wouldn’t budge. She, too, lost interest and began finding it more fun to chase the squirrels.
Confession #2: The Social Life
As with any life-altering event, you can’t help but worry that all of those people that filled your life with joy and excitement might not stick around during those 10 months of mood swings and fragility. Although it’s a rite-of-passage to handle most of this time alone with your significant other, it still stings a little to feel left out from the fun circle you used to be a part of. The worst of which is entirely your fault, not theirs. It was just so hard to find the energy! Why is it impossible to have the same social life pre-pregnancy versus during? Well…
- Nothing will go according to plan. You will plan to still have a social life…until you get home from work and realize that every ounce of you just wants to fall over and nap. That’s ok though, because you will just nap for a little while and then you can go visit your friends. Oh…oops, accidently sleeping four hours longer than expected can ruin your whole day. It’s totally fine though, your friends love you enough to understand and you can always go visit tomorrow.
- It’s no big deal to go to your friend’s going away or graduation party pregnant. So what if everyone else is enjoying their delicious alcoholic beverages, smoking their luxurious cigarettes that you had to give up or dancing their asses off on the dance floor? You can still enjoy good company from the comfort of your table, where you can prop up your swollen feet, eat a second plate of food, and reminisce about how fun it was when you were able to do those things. And I’m not going to lie, at the point of said reminiscing, you will start to panic because honestly, your life is about to change FOREVER. All that fun that you used to have will be gone and replaced with all of the “joys” of parenting. It’s ok if at this time you wonder “How in the hell am I going to get through this?”
- Your loyal friends will understand and do the best they can to keep you up to speed on the important moments of their life. Just a small piece of advice to anyone who is a friend to a pregnant woman—please share whatever details of your life you want. It’s almost like a soap opera that we get to enjoy from a distance. We might not be able to go to that concert with you, but it’s really fun hearing about the details…believe it or not, that is not sarcasm, it’s the truth.
Confession #3: Confidence, Identity, and Maternity Wear
You will never appreciate your old body as much as you will after your first pregnancy. I was never one of those girls to wear sundresses, skirts, or even shorts for that matter, but being pregnant has changed my perspective.
- On your way to Handel’s Ice Cream, I mean…the fresh produce market, (yea that’s it) you realize that your clothes are starting to feel really tight. After you eat (those fresh fruits and vegetables of course), you head to the store, only to find that nothing in the store fits you! Nothing will make you more depressed than looking at your large, stretched out body in a full-length mirror while you try on adorable clothes that in no way fit your enlarged legs or gigantic baby bump.
- When you leave two or three stores in defeat, it’s incredible just how guilt free you feel while stopping at McDonald’s to get that large fry and Frappuccino. After all, it’s too late anyway. You might as well consider wearing a moo-moo.
- Expecting a baby can be so beautiful when it comes to family. If you’re as lucky as me and my significant other are, then your family will be over the moon with excitement. Pictures will be snapped at every visit, perky conversation about names and baby themes will engulf the room, and everyone will rub your belly like they expect a genie to pop out. It’s all so beautiful until you see yourself plastered all over Facebook and realize that you’re huge! Most times, I had to do a double take to make sure that it was really me. It is at this moment that you realize how much you love your significant other. If you’re with a great guy, he will have managed to make you feel beautiful and sexy even though you have CLEARLY changed. This is both a blessing and a curse as you will now go throughout the rest of the pregnancy knowing that he is just trying to make you feel good. But honestly, sometimes that’s all you need.
Confession #4: The Body
It’s ok to cry when you look in the mirror. I know that sounds so dramatic, but there are only so many times that you can hear the phrase “Oh honey, you’re pregnant,” before you go bat shit crazy.
It started with a few small stretch marks that turned into a lot of stretch marks. At least they were only on my legs…and my belly…and my arms…and my chest…
Next cane the the cellulite, jiggling its way to every curve I once loved.
To top it off, the constant nauseau, gas, and bloating ruines any chance of even wanting to wear make-up or fix my hair.
Besides all of that, there were some serious consequences to gaining so much weight so fast:
- Gaining so much weight can really put a lot of pressure on your joints. Bending down was excruciating.
- My feet had been so swollen that when you presses on my “cankle”, the indent stayed there. The doctor checked for serious problems and I was fine, but I was clearly retaining a LOT of water.
- There is such a thing as Pregnancy Induced Carpal Tunnel—it feels like both of your wrists have been shattered.
- There were days where I felt so weak that I literally had to have Ric roll me out of bed.
Confession #5: The Relationship
You will never know the extent of a man’s love until he has had to deal with his pregnant significant other. After working all day, they literally come home to a second full-time job in which there is no way to train for the months to come. If you have a good man, he will recognize that this is tough on you and he will do what he can to walk through this process with you.
- When I first met my love, I did all that I could to wear sexy, fitting clothes. Now, I wear nightgowns, yoga pants and hoodies, yet he never failed to tell me that I was the most beautiful woman on the planet. Hey, I knew it was bullshit, but knowing what to say at the right time is half the battle.
- I’ll never forget the day I cried in the department store because I couldn’t find a bra that fit. My ribs were sore, my clothes were too small and I felt so insecure. Ric made me pick out several maternity outfits to try on. When I came out of the dressing room, he was speaking with an older woman who was an employee there…they were talking about maternity bras. My heart melted.
- Many people will say that pregnancy will make or break a relationship, and I can see why that might be true. I’m thankful that we were strong enough and loved each other enough to get through the rough spots and enjoy the perks. There is nothing sexier than a man who can physically, emotionally, and financially take care of his family.
In the end, nothing else will matter once you hold your baby in your arms for the first time. All of the worrying, stress, and pains of the human body fade away when you see their tiny little fingers and toes wiggle. I knew that my nights of careless fun and wreckless abandon were behind me and at first I was scared. But I think that God had a reason for making pregnancy take 40 weeks: It gives the parents enough time to adjust to the life-changing situation that is about to occur. I might not be able to do all the things I used to do, but I have a new purpose, one full of love, life, and happiness. Not only do I have this amazing little being to care for, but I also found out so much about my relationship. It truly is a blessing to know that I have a loving partner, who is also an dedicated father, standing by my side. I know that the friends that have stuck by me will be the ones who attend my daughter’s future birthday parties, they will be a huge part of my wedding day, they will always be there and I will forever be grateful.
Pregnancy is the ultimate test: It’s a test of partnership, patience, confidence, friendship, and relationship. If I can survive those 10 months before birth, the rest will turn out alright. Everyone will have their own opinions and ways of handling it, but it’s up to me to make the best of it, but now it’s time to leave the multiple hot fudge sundaes behind.
Until next time
– Rhonda Farabee