25 Weeks Pregnant: Tis the Season to Dress to the Nines

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.

Pregnancy Art Therapy - 25 Weeks

“Close your eyes. Visualize your body as you breathe in and out. Try to imagine your breath as a particular color as it enters your body, another color as it exits. What do you see? Draw an outline of a body on a large sheet of paper, and inside, create a watercolor based on your bodily state. Think about what these colors mean to you, where they are densest, where they are most opaque.”

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:

Maternity holiday dress

Ready for the holiday party!

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).

24 Weeks Pregnant: Horizontal Growth Spurt

December 1 – December 7: 24 Weeks 0 Days – 24 Weeks 6 Days.

Eight weeks ago I was wondering when my bump was going to pop. Well, it’s here!

24 Week Bump

Filling out my maternity clothes.

Over the last two weeks I had a horizontal growth spurt. So far in my second trimester I’ve been gaining a pound a week or less, but in the last two weeks I put on around 5 lbs. At least some of that gain was to my thighs and butt, but I’ll consider that stored energy for the baby when she’s so big that there’s barely any room in my stomach for food (although, if I start feeling like I’m going to split my maternity pants, maybe I’ll lay off the butter and bacon).

What I love most about the bump: Seeing evidence that my baby is growing. I’ve been feeling her kick more and more, too, which is so cool.

Other bump advantages:

  • Filling out my maternity clothes instead of swimming in them. My “I ate a seed” shirt finally makes sense.
  • Being recognizably pregnant. Growing a human is hard work, and it’s nice to be acknowledged for it! I love telling people, “It’s a girl!”
  • Getting special pregnant lady treatment, like being allowed to use a restroom that’s not normally for customers or having three grocery store employees desperately (but ultimately unsuccessfully) trying to help me find the perogies I’m craving. Sometimes people do go a little overboard. I can still pick stuff up off the floor on my own, carry quite a reasonable amount of weight, and walk a modest distance. I appreciate the thought though!

Bump Inconveniences:

  • Before I was pregnant: if I had to fit through a tight space, I’d turn sideways and squeeze through. Now: if I can’t fit through facing forward, I probably can’t fit through facing sideways either. I clipped my belly pretty hard on a door handle trying to sneak into a meeting room one day this week.
  • Putting socks and shoes on is awkward. I can’t really bend my knee into my chest any more, and it’s hard to tie my shoe with my ankle crossed over the opposite knee.
  • I don’t think my feet’s integrity has caught up with the extra weight I’ve gained. By the end of some days this week, my tootsies were aching, especially if I’d been wearing non-supportive shoes. I think a key to my third trimester will be finding supportive (but hopefully still attractive) slip-on shoes. Any suggestions?

My biggest bump challenge: Now that the baby is bigger she is starting to press up against my stomach, which is causing heartburn. One day this week the heartburn was intense and relentless. It feels like the baby may have turned upside down so she can kick up against my stomach (in the long run, this is a good thing as the ideal position for birth is when the baby is upside down—most hospitals will do an automatic C-section if the baby is feet down). I’ve been managing the heartburn with food and lifestyle choices so far (sipping almond milk, going for walks after eating, sleeping on an upward slant). The next thing on my list of things to try is papaya, which several reputable sources have recommended. That said, I’ve Googled, “Are Tums safe during pregnancy?” several times, so my resolve may be wavering.

Identity shift: I couldn’t categorize this as good, inconvenient, or bad because even when change is wonderful, healthy, and productive, it’s hard! With the physical changes in my body, Richard sees me differently. I’m no longer just a wife and a woman, I am a mother and the carrier of his already-beloved daughter. He cares for me in ways he didn’t before, and seems to have a heightened protective instinct for me and the baby. Obviously this shift in both of our identities is amazing, necessary, and there are parts of it I love (like having Richard make me snacks), but I still have a sense of melancholy around losing my old, simpler identity. Also, these new roles entail all sorts of a scary responsibility and stir up a deep-seated evolutionary need to not mess up, which can degrade into self-doubt and self-judgment. The questions around my future work situation contribute to the feeling of getting a total lifestyle makeover. More and more I’m willing to dive wholeheartedly into this new adventure and see myself as a mother (the books I’ve been reading have helped), but there are still moments when I just want to be a woman and a wife. I guess that’s what babysitters and date nights are for!

Stop Procrastinating and Dive into Life

So many of us succumb to procrastination in our day-to-day lives, which is essentially allowing that which matters most to give way to that which matters least. Even in yoga class, we mull over what we should’ve said in an earlier argument, repeat and re-repeat mental grocery lists, and wonder self-consciously if anyone noticed that giant zit that popped up this morning. All of this is just procrastination that prevents us from being present to the real work: the svadyaya (self-study), the dharana (concentration), and the dhyana (meditation). Just as with any other work we procrastinate from, this stuff is often scary, uncomfortable, and exhausting. Anything that that spurs wild transformation usually is.

As Rusty Wells always said in class when I practiced with him years ago (and he probably still does): “If nothing ever changes, nothing ever changes.” Next time you’re in yoga class, your mantra is, “I prioritize that which matters most in this moment.” Mental chatter is definitely going to come up, but instead of indulging in it, you notice it as an observer rather than a participant. What do you cling to? What are your recurring thoughts? When is there the most mental chatter? When is there tranquility? Distraction is going to come up too. That’s an another opportunity for svadyaya. As one of my dear teachers, Les Leventhal, always used to point out: we never stop take a sip of water or fix our hair in the poses that we love. Notice.

Once you start diving into your yoga practice, you’ll find that the habits you develop start spilling over into the rest of your life too. You run for what matters most rather than lolling about in what matters least. You seize the day. You savor the richness of each moment.

Life is love - enjoy it. -Sai Baba

Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it. -Sai Baba

On the internet, there is widespread disagreement who wrote the following poem, so if you know who the author is please let me know!

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.
– Unknown