Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Body Image

A few weeks or months ago (as Mike says, time flies when you're pregnant), someone mentioned to me that I ought to post some photos from our wedding day. You know, better late than never, ho-hum.

The problem is, I have a hard time looking at those pictures.

At the time of our wedding last year, I was 25 lbs. heavier than my normal weight during my college years. I tried to diet during our nine week engagement. I tried to exercise at nights and on the weekends, running around my neighborhood south of BYU campus, cranking out a grueling Jillian Michaels workout every Saturday morning. I tried to eat smart, but with full-time work (and office treats), a daily three hour round-trip commute, and the stress of planning a wedding, I resorted to comfort eating on many occasions. On my wedding day, we struggled to close my wedding dress. I tried to put it out of my mind, sucking my tummy in most of the day and smiling for the camera, hoping it would miraculously shave off 10 lbs. I was grateful my husband had about 5 lbs. on me. Had I passed him, it would have done a number on me emotionally.

I've watched friends magically drop 10 or 20 lbs. before their weddings. Their elbows look sharp, their arms toned, their waists tiny, and their faces thin. The weight loss doesn't last forever, but they look great in those photos that forever immortalize one of the biggest days of their lives.

I think about my body often these days, since it is changing so noticeably, so quickly. In general, women seem to think about their bodies a lot. I believe plenty of men do too. Though people love websites that expose pre-photoshopped celebrities and those viral Facebook pictures that preach loving the body you've got, we all still buy into dieting fads, avidly follow weight loss shows (Biggest Loser, anyone? I love it...), and applaud Jennifer Hudson for her dieting success. Right?

During my first trimester, I became incredibly sick. Daily, constant vomiting, accompanied by rapid weight loss. At 12 weeks pregnant, I was 15 lbs. lighter than I was on our wedding day. My wrists thinned, my face slimmed a bit. Though my suffering was intense and unrelenting, I found myself pleasantly surprised with the dropping number on the scale.

It disturbed me that I could feel this way, that at my age and with my perceived sense of personal maturity my appearance and the arbitrary number on a scale could mean so much to me. On The Bump, a popular pregnancy website, there's even a chart with your pre-pregnancy BMI and your recommended weight gain based on your body before you conceived. I've talked to many woman here locally who felt pressured to curb their weight gain during pregnancy, freaking out if they surpassed their "limit."

Please understand that I know that it would be reckless to gain extreme amounts of weight during pregnancy. But the paranoia about going 2 or 5 lbs. over a somewhat arbitrary limit perplexes me no end.

Before I got pregnant, my belly button looked like an upper-case O. I think "society" (whatever that is) would promote the number 0 as the prime belly button shape, with a lower-case o as an acceptable runner-up. These days, my navel resembles a bloated dash: long, taut, and thin. It's the weirdest looking thing ever. But I find myself relishing these changes, embracing them as part of my journey to motherhood. For the first time, I'm proud of my weight gain.

But I still feel weird about the photos from our wedding day. So, here's a few, in the spirit of, um, ambivalence. (All photo credits to Sanae James. Sanae, I'm sad we both moved away from Utah. With a baby on the way, I wish you were handy to document everything.)

Some bridal shots.

Married April 23, 2011
in the Mt. Timpanogos Temple. 

Surrounded by friends and family.

 It was a cool, misty day.

 He makes me indescribably happy.

 That cake was delicious.
Nom nom nom.

This has been a good exercise for me (no pun intended). My wedding day appearance included no fake tanning, no expensive professional makeup, and obviously, no Spanx. Yes, I still sigh and feel a little disappointed by my inability to look svelte on my wedding day. And I tear up, not because I'm a chubbyish gal, but because that day transformed my life. That day marked the beginning of the best and hopefully the longest chapter of my life. I'll never be a size 0 (or 2, or 4, or 6, or 8). But I'll always be loved and valued by and eternally bound to a pretty incredible man.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Last Night

  This, I promise, has to do with the baby. But before I get there, I have a tangent for you. Hilary didn't know this, and most people don't, but I'm a fan of the San Antonio Spurs. I'm pretty sure this factors into our decision to go to UTSA for my MA. But until last night, I had never gone to a Spurs game.
  Since this is Spring Break (for those who are at BYU, allow me to explain. You see, here I start school in the middle of January, and for some unexplained reason, I get a week off in March. I can do whatever I want, [which boils down to video games, Spurs games, and Moby Dick {parentheticals in parentheticals? This is the Inception of blog posts}]. You on the other hand must slave away with only one three day weekend. However, you do get out in the middle of April, and I stay in school until May), I found Hilary and I some cheap tickets for Wednesday's game against the Magic.
  After a delicious home-cooked meal, we left for the AT&T Center. We follow the GPS to downtown, and from there to the East side, to the middle of nowhere. Here's a picture of the stadium:
Now, I have been privileged to see the Mavs play in Dallas, and the Jazz in Salt Lake. Those centers are located in the middle of their respective cities, and look nice. I mean, really nice. The AT&T Center? It's in the middle of "an industrial storage area of the city" says Hilary. It looks abandoned, wind swept. And this is where the four-time NBA champions, San Antonio Spurs play (also, the indoor San Antonio Rodeo).
  Once inside, the center has the appearance of an sports arena. Merchandise is sold at booths. Food is exorbitantly priced (I don't drink alcohol, and at $7 a beer, I'm glad for the gospel). The restroom signs have men and women in cowboy hats and spurs. Oh, and babies, too.
  Our seats were up in the nosebleed, but we were able to see well. The game was exciting. There were several lead changes, with the Spurs going on a tear towards the end of the fourth to seal the deal. For the record, Hilary and I love sporting events. During half time, I talked to her about how important I think these dates and excursions are. We talked about how, even though we'll one day end up in a college town because of work, it is really important to be close to a city where major sports are. I did not have this opportunity growing up, but I would like my children to enjoy going with the family to a baseball game.
  Now, this thought brings us to what many of you want to see. At half time, we asked someone to take a picture for us. 
As we looked at it, Hilary realized her baby bump is popping. So, technically we have taken our child (albeit unborn) to a game. I look forward to many more sporting events with my kids. And if they do not like sports, then I will find other quality activities for them. And yes, that is our first baby bump picture.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dear Baby: March 14, 2012

Dear Baby,

Grandma Watkins sent you some toys and books and clothes.
Well, hello little socks, aren't you precious?

I wish I could tell you the nausea of first semester has passed, but that would be a lie. My overall health has definitely improved, though. I'm feeling more energetic and my appetite is back. I'm up to my pre-pregnancy weight again, and my belly has pop-popped! Your dad and I went to a maternity store on Monday to pick out a few clothes for me, which was fun. The store gave us a free bottle! The first bottle we've ever owned, but not the last, I'm sure.

Tomorrow marks 17 weeks. Next week, we have our ultrasound! Finally. I'm anxious to see you, little friend.


Your mom

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A General Update (to a non-baby audience)

Things continue to roll along in the Lemon apartment-hold.

For those of you who were concerned about my daisies (thank you for your condolences, by the way), I have some news on that front. Upon walking Sammy the Pug the other day, I noticed that some of my snapdragons looked especially shredded. Compared to the other snapdragons, at least, which looked decidedly non-shredded. Our neighbor Jesse, watering his new tomato plants, commented that he had scared some cats off my pots that morning. They were digging around in the dirt and, by all appearances, using my snapdragons for scratching posts. I do not know if cats are capable of decapitating daisies, but I'm tired of eyeing everyone in our complex suspiciously, so I shall blame my floral misfortunes on the felines. Until new evidence comes to light, anyway.

I bought an off-brand camera battery charger. It's on its way. You never know how much you'll miss something until it is gone. I miss taking pictures! Even if my only willing subject is the dog, and he's usually only willing because of the lethargy that makes him too incapacitated to object. Depending on the status of our tax return, I might make the jump for a DSLR camera. Time will tell. One complaint I have regarding self-employment is having to pay taxes instead of cheerily filing a W-2. Sigh.

We received a food dehydrator for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) and we finally busted it out this weekend. I'm in love. Yesterday, we made some dried pear slices. The slices dehydrated surprisingly well, considering the fruit was very ripe and pears are a juicy fruit to begin with. They are delicious and sweet and tangy. I like having good snacks on hand. Huzzah. As I write, some applesauce is being metamorphosed into fruit leather. Drool.

This week I brought lunch to a friend who'd just had a baby a little over a week before. It was strange to see her baby, since we had been with her and her husband a few days before the baby was born. There she was. "For reals," as they say. It freaks me out, in the best possible way, to see newborns. How can they be so small? How can they be so huge? Mike and I watched a few birth videos the other day on one of the many baby websites I'm now addicted to. Mike had some choice words about one birth in particular. I know that my body will change to allow this baby to come out. But still. Wow. Youch.

And yet, being around my friend's tiny newborn filled me with the sweetest feeling of calm. Babies do that, you know? Before we were able to conceive, I'd ooh and aah over other people's babies, and Mike would ask, "Do you want a baby?" He never said it unkindly; it was a thing that we did. I'd always answer dreamily, "Yeah..." Now I still ooh and aah over pictures of newborns, but when Mike asks, "Do you want a baby?" I just point to my belly and say, "Got one cooking!"

Somehow this became about babies again. Better sign off before I get swept up in my internal baby-mania.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dear Baby: March 3, 2012

Dear Baby,

Yesterday, your dad and I were being lazy and hanging out in bed when he put his hand on my belly and smiled. I put my hand on my stomach, too, and I could feel the hard bump, and wondered when I'd first feel you "flutter."

Later, in the evening, we went to Barnes & Noble with a gift card your grandma Watkins gave us and picked out some more titles for our growing children's book collection. We left with five:

Fox in Socks, by Dr. Seuss
Where's Spot?, by Eric Hill
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
There's a Nightmare in My Closet, by Mercer Mayer
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems

I'm a book hoarder by nature, so I've had a lot of books for kids in my stash for years now. It was different, though, shopping for books for you. Imagining if I really wanted to read this or that book to you, with you. Consulting with your dad about concerns that are new to me. Would little hands be able to wield that big book of fairy tales? Which Spot book should we get, and should we get the board book version to withstand baby drool? Do we really endorse the message of the Little Engine? (You'll have to get your dad's opinion on that topic.)

We love you. We talk about you constantly. We hope you're nerdy like us so we can share our loves with you. Mostly, we hope you're healthy and eager to experience this life. We're honored to be a part of it.


Your mom

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dear Baby: March 1, 2012

Dear Baby,

It's been a busy couple of weeks, full of small tragedies and a few notable triumphs.

The tragedies, to get them out of the way:

1. SOMEONE DECAPITATED MY DAISIES. They were a gift from your father. Since we first started dating, he's never given me cut flowers. I tease him about it sometimes, but the man is smart and knows I prefer chocolate anyway. But I do love flowers, so for Valentine's Day, your dad took me to Home Depot and we picked up some flowers to put in my pots, since my basil plant froze one cold night and the cilantro died when we left town for a few days. I forgot to move it outside. Woops. I picked out Gerber daisies, snapdragons, and alyssum as filler. These pots looked good. Really good. I set them out next to my chamomile and dill plants by our front door. I picked snapdragons that weren't quite ready to bloom; now they are opening beautifully. I've been dying to take a few pictures, but I can't find my battery charger. Sigh. And then, yesterday morning, your pops noticed that the daisies were gone. My cheery yellow and orange flowers. Gone! Snapped off at the base. I hope, sincerely, that a very small child loved those daisies so much, she had to pick them for her mother. We don't live near a lot of children, though, so I am skeptical. Let us all pray I never find the culprit.

It really burns my biscuits that I didn't get even one picture. Hopefully the little buds I can see at the base of the plant will shoot up quickly. And my charger will magically surface from whence it is hiding. Or, more likely, from a dorm room in Vermont.

2. I broke my cookie jar. It was resting on top of the fridge. The fridge looked off-kilter to me, so I tried to straighten it out. And the glass jar came tumbling down and shattered into a zillion shards. It was a wedding gift from my cousin. Tear. As it fell, it smashed up a lemon cake I had made. The cake was preserved, don't worry, but it looks like, well, like it got smooshed by a suicidal cookie jar.

3. My doctor didn't renew my ondansetron prescription. It dawned on me during our visit last week that he really didn't know my history at all. I'm not sure he even knew I was on the stuff. His assistants had worked all that out for me. He said, "Vomiting is a part of pregnancy. There's nothing we can do to stop that." To which I though, "Hello... Ondansetron..." For six days, I went medicine free. And threw up just about everything I ate the whole time. I tried to tough it out, but I could feel my body shutting down. I called the office, and after a fiasco involving incorrect prescriptions, I finally got a very small order of ondansetron.

"He's cutting me off!" I shrieked to your father. How quickly I have become dependent on drugs. But in all seriousness, I'm so grateful for this medicine. It helps me eat, sleep, work, treat your dad civilly, etc.

I've had a lot of time to think about how I want this first pregnancy to go. I feel like most of what I know about what's happening to my body I've distilled from websites and message boards. Which leaves me feeling a little insecure. My last visit with the OB was rushed. He seemed impatient to answer my questions. I felt uninvolved in any sort of planning or decision making.

Which leads me to our triumphs:

1. I switched to a midwives group nearby. I was a little nervous that a midwife would try to get me to give birth in a tub without medication. Which is fine, if you go for that sort of thing, but I don't. Amy, the midwife we met with yesterday, smiled and said, "Oh, I have three lovely children, thanks to three lovely epidurals." Phew. The group is situated within a large OB/GYN practice, so if I have any complications, I have immediate access to specialists. It's the perfect place for us. We go back on March 21 for the anatomy scan. It'll be nice to start calling you "she" or "he," instead of "it."

2. In unrelated, but equally triumphant, news, your father wrote a paper that was accepted to a conference at Ohio State! It was a great validation for him.

This post is getting quite long. But I think you'll agree, it was worth it.


Your mom