21 weeks today. The son we never thought we’d have is growing at lightning speed (80th percentile!) as is my girth. Somewhere in the past 5 weeks I’ve gone from ‘what baby?’ to ‘whoaaa baby!’. A lovely colleague I hadn’t seen in a few weeks cast her eyes over my enormous belly and newly acquired maternity uniform and said excitedly, “Oh my goodness Mia! Are you pregnant?” “No,” I said grinning. “I’ve just really let myself go.”
I’ve actually gained 10 kilos in this pregnancy already. We all know that 60-70% of that is just fat. Ouch. Admittedly, a lot of it is in my boobs, as the girls like to point out. The rest is in and around my butt. Meh. We do need it for milk production later on, but I really want to rein it in. With Phemie 10 years ago I gained around 30kg. I didn’t blink. I didn’t care. I was starving all the time and absolutely embraced the opportunity to satisfy every craving or desire, guilt free. Maccas frozen coke and chips were a regular (previously forbidden) delight. I retained so much fluid that I wore compression socks every day (even in the height of Summer), my feet resembled pigs trotters and my ankles simply disappeared. I woke up every morning in the third trimester with carpal tunnel in my hands. I had to slowly, painfully, pry open each of my clawed fingers before I could function again.
Sure, I lost most of the weight and fluid gained with birth and breastfeeding but the last 10 kilos took some concerted effort. I got there in the end. With Reina 2 years later, I only gained about 12 kg and lost it all and more after birth and 2 years of breastfeeding. (I also lost a lot of hair but that’s a different story). I was so busy running after a toddler and attending uni studying midwifery full time, that many times I forgot I was even pregnant. People asked me how far along I was and I really had to stop and think. “Hmmmm,” I’d say. “Hang on…” Second babies are just different. Certainly for me, I did not have time to overindulge and I didn’t have any constant cravings I felt desperately needed satisfying.
This time is different. I’m gaining very fast and I care. It bothers me. Over the past couple of years I’ve developed chronic left sided lower back pain, which unfortunately is not improving with pregnancy, as it sometimes can. Something to do with the relaxin streaming through my veins loosening everything up- sometimes it’s your friend, sometimes your foe. I know the more weight I gain the worse that will be. I have pelvic congestion syndrome which also worsens with weight gain. Never mind of course the increased risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension, and pretty much everything. Carrying extra weight puts unnecessary strain on all your organs. I don’t want that. It also doesn’t help that before I fell pregnant I was as fit and healthy as I’ve been in a long time. I was running 4 times a week, free of carb cravings following months of intermittent fasting (see before and after pics here), had lost 10kg and felt so light and, can I say it, attractive.
Now I feel heavy, slow, tired and, not very attractive. First world problems. Ultimately, meaningless problems. Hell, not even actual problems at all. Believe me, I know. I struggle to even share these feelings openly because it does feel so very shallow and irrelevant, especially when I think about all the tragedy, sadness and loss happening all around us at the moment. My heart breaks for everyone in NSW, and indeed people all over the world with Covid running rampant. Above all, our family is grieving the devastating losses of life and widespread destruction of homes and countryside in my husband’s beautiful home of Kabylie, Algeria. Wildfires raged for over a week and ravaged the entire region. The fact these fires appear to have been deliberately lit, leaving the villagers with no choice but to defend their drought stricken land themselves, using mainly dirt and branches, beggars belief. Beyond our privileged little cocoon, where we are blessed with safety, physical and financial security, love and good health, it’s been a bloody awful month.
So while I am filled with gratitude and a refreshed dose of perspective, I’m still just a woman, with my own baggage and history, fighting an internal, unspoken mental fight with a body now growing a new body, and quite literally taking on a life of its own. The word surrender comes to mind, and all is well. And I do feel lighter and kinder to myself having shared. So thank you for being here and helping me with that. I’m hoping the next time I come back here, you can help with all the morbid thoughts. I’m still working up to that blog.