I had this idea that my nine months would be some kind of guiltless-free-for-all. But it hasn't been like that. At least not for me.
They must have my file flagged to discuss my weight. After they find out my heart rate is perfect and the baby's heart rate is perfect and my blood pressure is spot on and my blood sugar results are exactly in the normal range, they take a deep breath and wince.
"We don't like to harp on weight here at the midwife group…" they start, "but…" My heart sinks, knowing what I'm going to hear next. "But your weight is much higher than we like to see."
At this midwife group, you don't just see one midwife—you schedule appointments with a different woman each time. This is to get to know everyone since it could be anyone from the group at the facility when you give birth.
"Here is a great pamphlet we have on intentional eating." But that means sometimes information gets repeated at appointments. Like the weight talk.
I take the pamphlet and look at the decision tree on the back. It helps you understand whether you are hungry or bored. I am a grown woman—I know whether I am hungry or bored. This is the third time I've gotten this exact pamphlet.
I've made decisions during this pregnancy. I decided where I would give birth. I decided the color of the nursery would be light yellow and green. I decided that if I had a boy I would name him Henry and if it was a girl, she would be Willa.
But somethings I didn't decide. Some things my body and my baby decided for me.
They decided that biking a hundred miles a week, attending four hot yoga classes, and running every day like I used to, were not things I could manage anymore while pregnant.
They told me through unending food aversions and nausea that what I could eat was limited to grains, vegetables, cheese, and ginger chews—even though I hadn't eaten any of those things for years prior to pregnancy.
If I was stubborn and tried to take on too much, my body and my baby would rain exhaustion down on me like hellfire until I had to call someone for help to drive home because I was sitting in the chip aisle at the grocery store, too exhausted to move.
The idea of taking up space is nothing new for me. In short, our culture often sends messages to girls and women that say we are at our best when we are the smallest possible. This could mean thinnest or quietest or most sexually demure or accommodating. The list goes on.
Essentially, our society says that wherever you are on the spectrum of womanhood, you could always stand to shrink a bit. Taking up space is the counter to that destructive ideology. The applications of taking up space are as varied and beautiful as you are.
Be "too much."
However expanding might benefit you in your life—do it. And thrive.
I thought I had this concept nailed…until I got pregnant. I didn't realize the pressure. I had this idea that my nine months would be some kind of guiltless-free-for-all. That I could eat my ice cream and pickles and proudly take photos next to a chalkboard showing how my bump was holding a watermelon-sized baby.
But it hasn't been like that. At least not for me. I'm infinitely aware of how my size compares to others, how others see me, and am forever plagued by the feeling I'm somehow not doing this right.
I know other women have made different decisions in their pregnancy. Or rather—their bodies and babies have made different decisions and because of that, maybe they were able to take on more. And all the more power to them! But that isn't where my path has gone.
I'm not unhealthy. The baby is not unhealthy. I'm pregnant. And because I'm pregnant and I'm doing my best to listen to what my body and baby need—I have gained more weight than the chart says I should have.
Sometimes I feel really empowered. Sometimes I feel helpless like I'm drowning.
Getting my third pamphlet on intentional eating in as many appointments made me feel like I was drowning.
I got all the way out to my car, still clutching it before I broke down. Instead of standing up for myself in there—I smiled meekly and left when she told me the appointment was over.
I stood against the car and sobbed and sobbed and hated myself. I hated my body. I hated my aching back and swollen ankles and enormous leaking breasts. But mostly I hated that I said nothing when I should have said something.
Finally, my sobs started to quiet down and I wiped the tears and snot off of my face with my oversized maternity shirt.
I felt a little kick. And then another.
Baby always had the most uncanny timing. He wanted to know what was going on.
I looked down and took a deep breath. "I'm okay as long as you're okay." I said out loud. "Mommy was just given something that made her sad," I paused… "But I don't intend to keep it."