December 8 – December 14: 25 Weeks 0 Days – 25 Weeks 6 Days.
I just read an article about how tech companies throw impressive holiday bashes to retain employees, and not to be outdone, Richard’s company had its party this Saturday on the U.S.S. Hornet, an aircraft carrier. The invitation requested we “dress to impress.” Minor discomforts aside, I’ve felt good in my second trimester, so I was looking forward to it.
I have several high-waisted dresses, and I thought I’d easily be able to squeeze into one of those because it’s only my belly that’s growing, right? Wrong. Thursday evening I tried on dress after dress, and the zippers wouldn’t come anywhere near closing. There was a dress or two that I could use if I was desperate, but nothing that looked that “impressive.” Friday, I headed to the mall to search for a maternity holiday dress.
First stop: Motherhood Maternity. They had a couple nice dresses there, but in response to nearly every one of my hopeful inquiries, the saleswoman replied, “I’m so sorry, we no longer have that in your size.” Disappointed, but unwilling to give up, I got took every marginally winter-appropriate dress they had in my size into the fitting room.
We don’t have bright lights or a good full length mirror at our new home yet, which I guess has left me with some body blind spots. Upon putting on the first mid-thigh-length dress, I turned around in front of the mirror to see how it looked, but froze when I caught a glimpse of the back of my right knee (what’s that area called? The knee pit?). It was blue! Horrified, I laboriously bent and twisted to try to get a better look. Are those spider veins? No, those are definitely varicose veins. Two of them? No, three?! Oh my God. (I still don’t know how many there are, I can’t get into a position where I can closely examine my own knee pit). I tried on all the dresses I’d brought in, but I was so distracted by examining and re-examining the back of my knee that I probably didn’t genuinely see most of them.
The previous day, I’d tried an art therapy technique in which I drew an outline of my body, meditated on my state, and filled in the outline with watercolor. I feel like I need to do another one using the body shape of me contorting to try to see the back of my knee. The agitation I felt in that moment is probably worth processing. Those varicose veins represented something more significant to me. Maybe I was upset because I saw it as the first evidence of a permanent change pregnancy would have on my body (which is not necessarily the case, sometimes varicose veins shrink or disappear after pregnancy—during pregnancy blood volume goes up 50%, contributing to bulging veins). Maybe seeing them shattered my sense of invincibility, thrusting me into a tempest of worry about all the other things that could go wrong (my gestational diabetes test is this week). Maybe they just made me feel old, unhealthy, or unattractive. I don’t really know.
I was alarmed by the the variety of textures and colors on the back of my knee. (Reality check: they have become less and less pronounced every time I’ve looked at them in the days since—they are not even that bad). I Googled “blood clot vs varicose veins,” as I bumbled through the mall and was satisfied that my symptoms were benign. However, when I got home (empty-handed) I phoned the nurse-midwife who was on-call after hours at my hospital and described my symptoms to be reassured that I was really okay (She was graciously nice about it).
I accepted that I wasn’t going to get a fun new holiday outfit, and resigned myself to wearing an old relaxed white sweater dresses the party. On Saturday morning I headed back to the mall to buy some maternity nylons and other flesh-tone underthings to complement. The saleswoman at Motherhood recognized me and said, “Hey you were in here yesterday, right? That dress you really liked—we just got a shipment in and we have it in your size now. Do you want to try it on?” The previous day, when I looked in the mirror, the appearance of each dress I tried on was outshone by the pulsating blue aura emitted from my gnarly knee pit. With the perspective of a new day I still checked out my new found body change in the full-length mirror, but I was more focused on envisioning which necklace I would wear to match and how I’d do my hair and make-up. Here’s how it turned out:
Richard and I had a lovely time at the holiday party. He was like a kid in a candy store on that aircraft carrier—he wanted to see everything! I’m glad I brought flats, because the stairways were practically ladders. We stayed until almost midnight, which made me recognize how much more energy I have now than I did in my first trimester. One thing I’ve come to depend on in pregnancy is that, for better or worse, every week something changes (And in the big picture, as long as the baby is growing and healthy, it’s all for better). One of the Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations in my Hypnobabies home study class was particularly poignant this week: “I love my pregnant body and accept it every day.” This was the first week I felt like I needed that statement.
I’ve since read up on how to minimize varicose veins to prevent complications. The whole time I’ve been writing this post I’ve been diligently trying to avoid crossing my legs. I’m still trying to figure out how to sleep on my left side and elevate my legs at the same time, but I’ll keep trying (lying on the left prevents the baby from compressing the inferior vena cava, which can inhibit blood from returning to the heart, and elevating the feet prevents blood from pooling in the legs). Daily cardiovascular exercise would help, so maybe it’s time to locate my closest swimming pool. For now I’m off to spend a few minutes in legs up the wall (viparita karani).