Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lessons on Growing a Tiny Person

Having reached a whopping 26 weeks of pregnancy (I still cringe at the thought that there's about 14 weeks left to go...), I have learned quite a few things about the miracle of life. Being the thoughtful and generous person that I am, I'm going to share those lessons with you.

Lesson number one: having a "bellyful of baby" unfortunately precludes the possibility of having a belly full of anything else. Like dinner, for example. If you try to test this theory I can promise that you will be wildly uncomfortable and feel more stuffed than a Thanksgiving turkey. Your tiny human will not give way, no matter how much you think you can fit just a few more bites of chili into your stomach. The baby doesn't care how tasty it is: anything that impinges upon his space will be treated like the Persians at Thermopylae and met with unyielding resistance.

Lesson number two. This, I confess, is a much nicer lesson. Standard medical advice says that if you're a normal weight when you first discover those two pink lines on a pregnancy test, you should look to gain about 25-35 lbs. during the next 9 months. My first thought was, "you have to be kidding me. The baby only weighs like 7 pounds!!" But then, I found this, and my fears were put to rest...

If you gain about 28 lbs. while you grow a person inside of you, this is about how it should break down by the end:

  • 7-8 lbs is the baby
  • 1-2 lbs is the placenta
  • 2 lbs accounts for the amniotic fluid
  • your giant expanding uterus clocks in at 2 lbs.
  • Notice those boobs getting bigger? About 2 lbs. of breast tissue is the reason why.
  • Your resting heart rate increases to pump another 4 lbs.-worth of blood around your system.
  • Swelling and water retention and other fluids in your tissue account for another 4 lbs.
  • the last 7lbs. in this example go to maternal fat and nutrient stores
Suddenly, gaining 18.6 lbs. in nearly 7 months doesn't feel so bad. My baby may only be around 2 lbs, but considering everything else, that means only about 2 lbs. of weight gain so far has been not-entirely-baby-related. Champion.

Lesson number three. Learn to get comfortable in bed quickly, because rolling over just became a lot more work than it's worth. The only time I feel like I'm carrying a lead-filled beach ball strapped to my front is when I try to roll from one side to the other in bed. This once easy task just became a whole hell of a lot more difficult thanks to, not just weight gain, but those lovely stretched-out abdominal muscles. Oh abs, I miss you. When the baby comes out, let's be friends again.

Lesson number four. You no longer have privacy. Just forget the meaning of the word, because the right to it no longer applies when the results of your - ahem - extra-curricular activities become public knowledge. All decisions, thoughts, cravings, and bodily functions are suddenly fit topics for discussion. How much you eat, how well you sleep, whether your boobs leak milk, what you're naming the baby, how you're going to diaper the baby, whether or not you'll go back to work and when, if you're having painkillers during labour...all of these things are questions people seem to have no compunction about asking.

For the record: coming from people I know well, or my health care provider, most of these questions are fair enough. When they're used as small talk by someone I hardly know, it takes an effort to restrain my smart mouth. If I weren't having a baby it'd be patently rude to ask how much I eat as an out-of-the-blue conversation topic. Guess what? Just because I'm gestating, that hasn't changed: it's still rude.

Oh - and that whole "personal bubble" concept? You don't have one. Or at least, it doesn't extend to your bump. I get that people get excited and want to touch it - I always got that feeling, too! But I restrained myself unless the pregnant friend in question was offering free bump rubs all around. If I wouldn't reach out and grab your butt to exclaim, "look at how big it's getting!" my advice is, don't do the same thing to my bump.

Lesson number five. You thought your own hiccups were annoying after five minutes? Try feeling someone else's hiccups! They're funny at first and then they just feel more and more bizarre as the minutes wear on.

Lesson number six. Getting kicked in the crotch hurts. 'Nuff said.

Lesson number seven. Pray - fervently pray - that your belly button stays an innie. So far, it seems my prayers have been heard.

So that's what I've learned so far about being pregnant. Well, that and, watching the baby poke your tummy out is pretty cool. The next time Piggly Wiggly decides to throw what I've been calling a Baby Dance Party, I'll try to catch a few seconds on film to prove just how bizarrely awesome the whole thing is. (And awesomely bizarre.)

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