Friday, August 03, 2007

A weird week

This has been a weird week for me. I thought I'd feel so relieved by now--the thesis committee meeting is over, the old house is set up and on the market, the new house is slowly being unpacked--but really, I'm in a weird stage. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones. Ask Tim--I really haven't been very moody (yet) in this pregnancy. Maybe the time is starting. Or maybe it's just that I've been so busy that I haven't really had time to get in touch with my emotions. I'm just not sure.

Really, the thesis committee meeting was fine. They seem to think there is a lot more work to do, which I agree with, but they couldn't give me a lot of direction. I didn't really get the talk about how I should be working harder and longer hours at Monday's meeting--I got that Tuesday morning with Dr. B., and really, I knew it was coming. It always does. So overall, lab stuff isn't bothering me more than usual.

The house stuff is a little weird. We're starting to settle in more at the new place. I'm still learning where things are, both inside and outside of the house (I had a gas station emergency the other day and didn't know where the closest one was). But the new place feels closer to home than the old place does. We were over at the old house yesterday checking on things, and really, it's kind of sad. I liked our old house. To see it empty, unused, is just sad. I don't regret moving, but I hope it sells soon. The more we go over there, the more bittersweet it is. Plus, it'd be nice to be done with two mortgage payments. There's always that.

This has been a tough week for me with the pregnancy too. It's not much more physically tough than it has been. It's that the physical changes are really taking a toll on me emotionally. Again, a lot of it may have to do with the fact that I've been too busy to focus on it until now. I know I didn't get this big overnight, even if it feels that way! And really, the issues are minor as far as third trimester issues go. I've got minor edema in my hands and feet by the end of the day. I've got some stretch marks over my stomach too. But other than that, things have been ok.

I guess the struggles are more about how I feel about the body changes. I'm totally pumped about the baby. I can't wait till she's here! But I hate the way my body is at the moment. I know, big shocker, right? I've got years of body image problems. No revelation that I'd have issues getting huge. Even though I knew this, and I tried to mentally prepare myself for it, it's been pretty tough. Up till a few days ago, I was still wearing regular t-shirts most of the time. Same goes for my regular undergarments. Sure, I was wearing the larger items in my closet, but it wasn't a big deal that I only owned four maternity shirts. I could stretch out my wardrobe between laundry days with the regular stuff. Heck, I still had a pair of jeans that fit until a few weeks ago, and I've actually got a pair of regular, non-stretch drawstring linen pants that have some room left in them.

And then, all of a sudden this week, things changed. My regular shirts were tight. The regular underwear wasn't making the grade. Even my early-pregnancy shorts (just a little elastic and a drawstring, not the huge full elastic panel) were getting tight! My weight hadn't changed much more than a pound or so, but I was gigantic. My tank tops were rolling up over my belly. My shoes were too tight. I felt like I had walked into someone else's closet!

That has been hard. I am uncomfortable with my body changes anyway, but to be uncomfortable in my clothes now--that makes it ten times worse. I always have to worry about if something's bunching, or if my shirt is coming up, or something like that. It just magnifies everything.

I did suck it up and order a few things online this morning from Actual maternity clothes. I hate spending the money, but my cousin gave me a 20% off code, which made me feel better about justifying it. And everything I bought was on clearance. I just hope it fits. I got big sizes, just in case, but if maternity clothes come and are too small, I may have a total breakdown.

Tim's been really supportive of all this. He thinks it's so cute. I try not to dump on him too much about how I really feel--I remember how overwhelming it was for him when I really explained about my regular body image issues. I think this would be exponentially worse.

And I'm trying to get past it. I've taken only a few pregnancy pictures, all of which look huge in my eyes (hence why they haven't been posted yet), but I'd hate to look back one day and have no pictures of this time. So I suck it up as best I can.

My mom was joking the other day about some of the shower games she wants to play. She was talking about one where people get toilet paper or string or something and have to guess how much of it it would take to wrap around the pregnant women's belly. I almost had a heart attack. Yes, it's a cute game, and I always had fun with it at other people's showers. But MY belly? What if people think I'm huge, and they have four times as much length as they need? Or they have too little, and are shocked when they find out how big I really am? Yes, these are really the thoughts that go through my head.

I'm working on it. It's hard for me on several levels. There's the innermost level, the voice that gives me all of the body image ideas I have. Then there's the level above that, the one that can hear the negative voice and feels bad for having such thoughts. And then there's the outermost voice that says I should have control over those other voices and just move past it. Basically, three levels of my psyche giving me issues--either negative thoughts or guilt about those thoughts. We worked on some of this a few years ago in therapy, but I never quite figured out how to change my entire line of thinking. My therapist was only a graduate student--I think she was a bit overwhelmed by the body image issues I had. The eating disorder ones were more textbook, and therefore we focused on those.

Anyway, I hate feeling so negative about my body. I really do. I think other pregnancy women are so cute. I just wish I could get to that point with my own body. At least I've been staying away from the destructive behaviors I used to associate with all my body image stuff. I haven't gone back to either of the extreme eating behaviors I used to have. No severe restrictions, and no binges either. I've just tried to be normal about it all. I eat as best I can, but I also eat what sounds good. Maybe once a week or once every two weeks we'll splurge and get a blizzard at Dairy Queen or something. We have been eating out more with the move, but I try to be reasonable about that too.

I've realized I have to gain weight for the baby. I might be gaining a little more than I want--my guess is it'll be a little over 20 next week at my appointment, but our scale at home is broken I think, so I'm not sure. But even if I gain 30 pounds the entire pregnancy, it doesn't make me a failure. Sure, I was shooting for 20 or 25. But with my pre-pregnancy weight and past eating tendencies, I know I could've gained 50 or 60 easily if I had completely let myself do whatever I wanted. So, 30, even 40 pounds is a success of sorts. My doctor hasn't brought it up, so if she's ok, then I need to be ok.

It's weird that I'm more accepting of the number on the scale than of my physical body. Don't get me wrong, the scale number is ugly--higher than it's ever been--but I think I prepared myself pretty well for that. The body stuff--not so much. No amount of lotion has prevented the stretch marks. My growing belly has a mind of its own. And I think the scariest part is that I still have almost 2.5 months to go! That scares the hell out of me. I sort of expected to be as big as I am now at the end of my pregnancy. I still have 10 weeks to go! How can I possibly get any bigger?

I've had nightmares about being so huge I can't fit through doors or sit in a chair. I know it won't really get to that point, but all of the changes in my clothes have reinforced my fear. What if I get too big even for maternity clothes? Will I have to walk around in a muu muu all day? Lord knows I'm not walking around naked.

Anyway, I'm going to try and not bring this up any more. It's something I've got to deal with. I need to focus on the baby, make sure she's healthy and getting what she needs, and my body will just have to deal. I'm not giving up on diet and exercise (as much as I can, at this point). But I have to just accept that my body is changing and that's the way it is.

I really do think that keeping busy has kept me away from really getting in touch with my feelings about all of this. I like to think I'm in control. Anyone I know will tell you what a organizing, anal-retentive control hound I really am. It's a coping mechanism. It's how I make my exterior strong while I'm feeling vulnerable inside. And let me tell you, this pregnancy has been the most vulnerable time of my life. From early on, when we were worried about miscarrying, to the concern about gestational diabetes, to every little daily worry about "am I doing all I can for the baby?", it's tough. And ultimately, there are some things over which I have no control.

I think labor will really be the pinnacle of vulnerability for me. No matter how much I prepare, no matter what plan I have in my head, labor will go the way it will go. I'm expecting a non-complicated birth with an epidural. What if I need a c-section? What if there are problems with the epidural, or I can't get one? Really, the chances are better that at least one thing will not go as planned. That's the way it works. And I need to accept that and be ready for the unknown.

I don't want to give my child the same issues I have. I don't like to talk about my family's issues on the internet, but I see how we all share some of the same issues. For some of us, it's manifest in the way we treat our bodies. Others of us deal with it in our money issues or our relationships. Some of us keep it all bottled up until we explode. But I think we all struggle with our self-worth. I don't want my child learning that from me. Tim's family isn't like that, and it's been good for me to see. I mean, everyone has issues, and his family is no exception. But they don't struggle with self-worth. They know they are good people and don't deserve to be stepped all over. They don't find fault with themselves constantly, and they don't feel the need to punish themselves over every little mistake or imperfection. I hope our daughter takes that aspect from them. Now, I'd like her to get her compassion and tolerance of others from me, but that's something we can work on :)

I know children mimic what they see at home. I've read books and articles about how young girls, as young as 4 or 5, talk about going on diets because that's what mommy does. That's not going to be my daughter. I'll do whatever it takes to make sure she grows up loving herself and loving her body. I don't want her showing it off like the little 12 year old hoochie mamas at the mall do--you need to respect yourself too--but I don't want her to be ashamed. I can remember being ashamed of my body as far back as changing for gym glass in elementary school. I always felt not as pretty as the other girls. I felt that way all through elementary, middle, and high school. I felt that way through college. And you know what? I didn't even have a weight problem until medical school. It's amazing to me that the body image stuff came so many years before the weight issues did.

Ok, enough rambling. Really. I think I had to write this post more to sort things our for myself than anything else. And like I said, I'm going to try and avoid talking about it any more. It's not that I am going to sugarcoat things--I'm honest to a fault. But I don't need to dwell on it either. I'm going to do my best to get past the body image stuff and just be excited that my daughter will be here in another 10 weeks or so. That's the payoff for all of this. And really, I'd take all of the stretch marks and cellulite in the world if it means I get a healthy baby girl. That's what's really important, and that's what I need to remember.

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