Monday, April 15, 2013

A Long, Hormonal Rant . . .


I checked out some books from the library, many of which have to do with pregnancy and childbirth. This may seem funny, as most of these books are written for first-time moms, which obviously I'm not. But even though I've done this three times before, I don't think I'll ever get this pregnancy thing down.

Some women claim that they love being pregnant. Some women claim that it is when they feel their best. My suspicion is that these women are either part of a very small minority, they don't remember pregnancy accurately or they are lying. I realize that for some women, the hormones during pregnancy and the bigger boobs make them feel fabulous. Well, I guess I should be happy for them, but this group of women does not include myself. My boobs were big enough, thank you very much. This is just getting ridiculous.

I think some women lie about what pregnancy is really like, or perhaps just don't tell the whole truth. This could be for many reasons. It might just be an attempt to be a grateful person and focus on the positive. It might be because a woman is trying to encourage another woman who is pregnant for the first time. And I also think that for many of us, we don't want to admit to ourselves or to others the difficulties of pregnancy, believing it makes us less adequate mothers and less competent women. 

I also think that most of us women do not remember what pregnancy is like when we are not in fact pregnant, myself included. We romanticize it, recalling ultrasounds, choosing names, feeling the baby kick and then of course the end result of a miraculous, breathtaking, beautiful little new person who joins the world. And hopefully I don't even need to say this, but the end result is obviously so much more than worth everything you endure. This is my fourth time around, enough said.

I also feel the need to say that I am very grateful for this pregnancy. As I have indicated in other posts, we were overjoyed when we discovered that we would have another baby and had been hoping for it for quite a while. It feels wrong to complain about the trials of my fourth pregnancy when there are so many women who have miscarried, who are putting their bodies through so much in the hopes of a baby and so many who will never be able to experience it. I do try to keep things in perspective, but sometimes I am just too tired, hormonal and immature to do so.

This is my journey and in this moment, pregnancy isn't feeling very joyful.

Because I've always struggled during pregnancy, I decided to look for guidance in some books. This is my #1 fix to all problems. Find a book. Read about others' experiences that you can relate to. Get some tips. Come up with a plan for how to improve the situation. Sometimes this process is helpful. But sometimes it isn't.

While I am pregnant, I feel fat. I do not feel beautiful. I feel fat. I know that I shouldn't, but I do. Perhaps it is because as a woman, I always have to watch my weight. Perhaps it is because I've grown up in a culture that adores the very thin and not the voluptuous, such as myself. Perhaps it is because for me, as for much of humankind, it is hard to watch your body change and get older. Or maybe it's just because, I get fatter. Obviously I know the reason for this. And I know that for the most part, it will all come off. But fat is fat is fat, and I don't like any more of it on my ass.

So I got a book titled, "Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Pregnancy." That sounds pretty good. I want to feel like I've got the glow. I want to feel hip. I want to feel fabulous. I envisioned this book as one that would be encouraging, uplifting and confidence-building. This was a great mistake.

In the quick fifteen minute flip-through I did, the book made me feel like crap. Now that I look back, I should have seen it coming. The cover portrays an illustration of a very skinny, sexy woman with a cute, cantaloupe-sized baby bump, a stylish, short halter dress, long Tina Turner legs and turquoise stiletto heels.  Hmmmmm . . . Very realistic? Not in my world.

Inside I found much of what I've found in other pregnancy books. There are workout routines and very healthy, very labor-intensive recipes which require purchasing high-maintenance ingredients at high-maintenance stores such as goji berries, hempseeds and cashew butter. There is an assortment of sample menus for detox days. It seems that everyone says the same thing recommended by all of the experts. In order to feel great during pregnancy, eat very healthy all of the time and exercise everyday.

Well, I don't want to! Or more accurately, I do not have the energy or motivation to. 

I love to cook. And I have educated myself a lot about cooking healthy foods. But when I'm pregnant, I am lucky if I get dinner on the table. I certainly do not have the energy to begin juicing everything, making my own nut milk, sprouted tabbouleh or Tunisian plantains! If we get takeout, which we have a lot, then it was a bad day. If I make some pasta with jarred marinara, then it wasn't a bad day. If I make myself a salad, then I must be feeling pretty good. And occasionally, I will have the energy to make some fabulous food (although not the healthiest), such as last night's Prosciutto-wrapped Chicken, Roasted Red Potatoes and Steamed Asparagus with leftover hollandaise sauce from that morning's eggs benedict. But I was exhausted afterwards! And yes, this was a particularly decadent day. I don't usually eat quite like that. But I'm not sprouting my own tabbouleh either.

The truth is that when I'm pregnant, we get takeout and go out to restaurants a lot more than we usually do. And I'm not ordering salads. When I'm pregnant, I EAT LESS HEALTHY, not more.

The truth is that when I'm pregnant, I'm tired, hormonal and have less motivation. I EXERCISE LESS, not more.

Of course, this is exactly the opposite of what you're supposed to do. And of course, it makes for more weight gain. And it probably doesn't help the tiredness, the breakouts or the hormones either. It is SO frustrating to me that all of the recommendations, all of the books and all of the experts tell you to just to eat healthy and exercise regularly during pregnancy, something that people who are not pregnant have a hard time being motivated to do.  It feels like a huge guilt trip for pregnant women, an unrealistic goal that will only make you feel bad when you don't meet it.

For me, this is what is real. I am at 18 weeks and I have gained about 10-12 pounds. This is at about a normal, healthy rate. But typically, I start kinda slow and put on weight at a faster rate toward the end of the pregnancy.

I wish I was some size 2 woman who was feeling the glow and energy of the second trimester, going out for daily walks and weekly yoga classes, cooking light, healthy meals and still fitting into my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans.

I'm not. In my second trimester, I do feel better than in the first. But if I have energy, it lasts a day or two, not twelve weeks. Otherwise I'm pretty tired and I have to peel myself out of bed each morning and try not to spend too much time each day on the couch.

I'm hormonal. I've cried like twenty times today.

Because of low energy, low motivation and very often, back pain, I do not exercise as much when I'm pregnant. My last workout was two weeks ago. Maybe I'll be up for one tomorrow.

I eat too much ice cream when I'm pregnant. I cook less. We eat takeout and fast food more.

When will someone write a real book about pregnancy? When will someone write all of the encouraging, uplifting, inspiring and understanding words that your best friend would say? When will someone write a book telling you that yes, there are some ideals and you should try to come close to them when you can, but if you are way off the mark, it's okay. Just take your multivitamin with that milkshake. When will someone write that book?

I would do it. But I'm too tired.

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