The F Word

My husband has banned the F word from my vocabulary. And I’m not talking about the four letter explicit. I’m talking about the word “fat”. As in, “oh my god, none of my clothes fit— I’m getting so fat!”

Which is exactly how I started my day while trying to tug on my gym clothes at 5:30am. Melbs groaned at first, tired of hearing me complain about my body, which I’ve done for the entirety of our 5 years together. While its not uncommon for women to complain about their bodies, I’ve been especially hard on myself.

My mom and sister are probably reading this and cringing— remembering my awful teenage years and how self loathing I was. How self deprecating and often abusive I was to myself. It’s all true and while I’ve gotten a lot better, it wasn’t until just last year that I’ve felt truly comfortable in the skin I’m in. Preparing for wedding and learning to love exercise, running in particular, I finally shed what I’ve always called “baby fat”— the 15 lbs of blubber that I’ve been carrying around since college. I looked good, felt great, and knew I just had to maintain it! …and up until recently, it’s be quite easy to do!

So here I am this morning. Desperately trying to keep up my exercise regimen, up at the crack of dawn, ready to get a work-out in and I’m completely flustered. In complete disbelief, really. How do STRETCH PANTS not fit? And as I mutter to myself, I know full well Melbs can hear me but he doesn’t say anything until I get home from the gym an hour later.

“Rachel, I want to tell you something. And I don’t want to have to say it again, but if you need me to, I will.

You are beautiful. And your clothes don’t fit right now because you’re PREGNANT. Don’t ever use that word, ‘fat’ again. Promise me.”

And in that moment, and now as I re-type his words, I want to cry. Not only is he right, but he genuinely cares about the way I feel about myself. I realize that he has always has cared— and that they way I talk about myself affects him too. Now that we are growing this baby, my body is his body too and every bit of it needs to be cherished out of respect for myself, for my husband, and for our baby.

What I have to accept is that no matter what I do— now matter how well I eat, how hard I work to stay fit, my body is changing and it’s going to get bigger over the next seven months.

What I’m learning to embrace is that my body is going to do whatever it needs to do to grow a healthy baby. Whatever its doing is an absolute miracle and beyond my control. And for my part, I’m going to continue eating well, resting lots, exercising when I have the energy to do so, and most importantly I’m going to go buy some more comfortable clothes.

Ladies, did you struggle with your expanding bodies during your first pregnancy? How far along were you when you started wearing stretch pants?

Layered Cake

Last night I had a dream about a rainbow layered cake. It was holy, this cake. In the dream, I was in a foreign land and struggling to find something or someone familiar, almost in a panic. But then I saw it: this glorious cake— on the ground, half smashed and calling my name. It no longer mattered where I was. I just needed that cake. Particularly, the yellow layer.

I was able to isolate and extract the yellow layer from the cake and as I inspected it, I could see there was more than what met the eye. The layer of cake was actually comprised of MANY yellow foods: egg yolk, banana peel, lemon zest, golden beets. I ate the whole layer and it was delicious. And still somehow tasted like cake.

Now, I have always had vivid dreams so this one may seem like another one of my doozies. But I’m taking this one to mean that I need more yellow foods like the ingredients of that cake in my diet. Call me crazy, but I believe in the power of dreams and what they suggest.

Symptoms – First Trimester Edition

The number one question people ask after finding out that you’re pregnant is how are you feeling? Up until 10 days ago I didn’t have much to say other then, great! How are you feeling?

Enter week eight. I’m blogging this entry from bed via voice dictation on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a gorgeous spring day and I just got home from a walk and here I am trying to go to sleep. Totally not my style. I would say my most unfortunate symptom at this point is my chronic exhaustion. Go to the gym for an hour? Exhausted. Go walk the dog? Exhausted. Easy day at work standing at your desk? Exhausted.

About a month ago I started falling asleep around 8 PM for no good reason at all. This wasn’t so much unlike me given that I’ve always been an early to bed early to rise kind of gal, but 8 PM? A bit much. But I’ve also been experiencing a bit of nausea recently. Mostly in the evening. I haven’t gotten sick but sometimes it just sucks to be awake so I crawl into bed then as well.

The worst day so far was Wednesday of last week. I left the office around 530 and halfway through my commute home I just felt sick. Like I just wanted to pull over, get some fresh air, and curl up in a ball. Thankfully I was picking up Melbs from work too and he took over the driving. We sat in traffic for 20 minutes, I was miserable, questioned whether I was going to make it without actually vomiting and breathed my way through it (thank goodness because the only bag like thing we had in the car was the manila envelope containing our marriage license). When we got home just after 6 PM I dove into bed, with all of my clothes on and didn’t get up until 5 next morning. If you’re worried that I didn’t eat dinner, don’t worry! I ate three breakfasts the next day.

I would not say that I’ve been craving anything. Although, I do find myself adding highly caloric things to dishes that just don’t warrant it. Peanut butter in your rice? Sounds great! Mayo on your eggs? Sign me up! I know this is just my body’s way of getting what it needs and it hasn’t brought me any great concern so far but I do wonder if these ideas will subside in my second trimester once I’m plump enough!

I’ve been reading a lot including, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which my mother-in-law sent right over (thank you!). I’ve always been a healthy eater but am learning that nutrition and weight management are some of the most important things I can control right now and I need to eat as reasonably as possible. Many women say that the first trimester is all about survival and if that means eating a pint of ice cream then just give it to yourself… And I am sure I will have those moments too. I just hope they are far and few between!

Other symptoms are more minor. Soft, dull cramps in my abdomen. They feel just like menstrual cramps and my doctor says that’s normal. There’s a lot of work going on down there and I actually kind of like that I can feel it all happening.

And smell! Oh my God the smells! Make them stop! Melbs is being great by taking out the garbage nearly every single day and scooping the cat box as well. The moment I walk into any room I become overwhelmed with the various smells. The sensory overload makes me, guess what? Run straight to bed and curl up in a ball.

Baby Melby is Real

We thought telling our closest friends and family would make it seem “real” but nothing could convince me more than SEEING MY BABY’S TINY LITTLE HEART BEATING! Today we had our first ultrasound. Despite that disgusting blue gel (which is worse than sand I will have you know!) the whole experience was amazing. Melbs came with me to our 9am appointment this morning and I wish we had asked one of the nurses to snap our photo because I’m pretty sure we looked like the eagerist beavers you’ve ever seen. Eyes wide, anxiously thinking of all the questions we mustn’t forget to ask, wondering, worrying what was coming next!

First it was lots of paperwork. Some of the questions surprised me: Are you at all related to the baby’s father? Has the baby’s father kicked or punched you lately? Are you currently using drugs? Homeless? These are certainly not the sort of things I expected to think about today but alerted me to the fact that some people answer yes to these questions. First thought was sock, second was sadness, and finally, gratitude. Boy, do I live a wonderfully privileged life. How very fortunate I felt to be there, with my non-related, non-abusive husband on that morning.

After all of the surveys were done, the nurse wanted my weight, which is eight pounds more than my wedding day, 3 more than last month, and a lot less than I felt. Blood pressure and heart rate are normal, teeth look good. Yes, my breasts are sore, and okay yeah, I’ve been tired and grouchy. Finally on to the ultrasound!

Again, blue stuff aside, this was pure magic. The whole time I was laying there waiting for the doctor to see my baby I worried that she wouldn’t see anything. That I had fabricated this baby in my mind and over exaggerated all of my symptoms. That I had wasted everyone’s time, and boy would my mom be disappointed… The doctor kept saying things like, “it should show up any second now…” and “maybe if I try this way…” and I almost felt like crying. And then she saw it! I saw Melbs’ face before I turned to the monitor and it was confirmation enough. Baby Melby was real.

Despite what I’ve always thought when looking at those god awful ultrasound snapshots on Facebook, the large black bean thing is not the baby. That little white blur is. And inside that little blur was a tiny little sparkle— the baby’s heart beat. It has a heart beat!

After that, the rest was easy. We verbally shat on the doctor with all of our questions:
“Can I drink coffee?”
“Can she run marathons?!”
“Should we get rid of our cat?”
“What about pate? That’s old advice right? Surely I can eat pate!”

The doctor was wonderful and patient and sent us home with a goodie bag full of journals and calendars and stickers and books and belly lotions. I felt validated. I felt excited. And then I had to go back to my regular, non-mother life and respond to a bunch of emails. But I kept my baby’s first photo on my laptop all day and smiled.

Spilling the beans.

Last week Melbs and I told my mom that we were having our first baby. That is, that for the first time ever, I peed two pink lines instead of one.

But let’s back up. Married just six months ago, we weren’t exactly trying. But we weren’t trying that hard to not try either. We always wanted to have kids and my personal goal was, and still is to have exactly two of them before I turn 35. So, I didn’t want to limit myself and about a year ago decided to go off hormones all together, opting instead for the rhythm method in order to prepare myself for conception sometime in the next 18-24 months. Looking back, I guess I was a bit overly prepared and as a result, got overly pregnant really quick. But that’s exactly me, all the time.

As was my calm and collected reaction to peering at those two pink lines.

I didn’t mention to anyone that my period was late, or that this PMS seemed to be lasting especially long this month. So quietly, while Melbs was brewing beer in the kitchen, I slipped into the bathroom to see what the test said. Yep— clear as day. Two lines = pregnant. Not even an ambiguous, taunting faint one. I was already running a bath (subconsciously masking my sneaky behaviour) and decided to step right into the water and sit down, process this revelation and decide what to do next.

It wasn’t but 5 minutes before Melbs walked by the bathroom, whistling a happy tune and I had all but forgotten I’d been hiding my test until deciding on my next move. “Hey,” I shouted. “Can you come here and hand me the bubble bath from under the cabinet?” Of course he obliged and reached for the exact cabinet door I had placed the test behind. I know it sounds like I planted this set-up but honest to God I was in too much of a stupor to calculate that well.

“WAIT! Don’t go in there.”

“Why? You’re being weird…”

“Well. Okay. You can go in there, but just so you know… there is a used pregnancy test on the top shelf that says we’re going to have a baby.” Very matter of fact.

Queue Melbs’ jaw dropping to his socks and then his face curling into a smile. “REALLY?!”

“Well. I can’t be sure. We’ll need more tests.” And four brands of pee sticks later, I was convinced. We were going to have a baby. And we knew exactly what to do next.