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!

Om Mani Padme Hum

Om Mani Padme Hum  is one of my favorite mantras. Translated directly, it means something like: the jewel is in the lotus flower. One of my teachers explained this metaphor to me: if we peel away the layers of our identity (much as one might peel away the many petals of a lotus flower), we reveal our true nature (the jewel inside). If we let go of the transient labels we by which define ourselves (and they’re all transient), we uncover our inner light. We can find moksha, freedom.

We can begin to peel away these layers in meditation by questioning the pieces of our identity: Who would I be if I lost my job title? Who would I be if I lost a leg? Who would I be on mood-altering drugs? Who would I be if went through gender reassignment surgery? You may find that even after you’ve whittled down to the bare bones of your identity, there’s still a conscious observer who can ask the question, Who am I now? Once you can’t think of any more pieces to dismiss from your identity, ask yourself, How is who I am different from who anyone else is? Underneath all of the layers that separate us, you will find that which connects us all.

Om Mani Padme Hum came to my mind today while I was reading fellow students’ tributes to one of my most influential and beloved teachers, Jacques-Andre Larrivée, who recently passed away. One person’s tribute quoted something that he always used to say:

Qui es-tu pour penser que tu peux changer le monde?
Qui es-tu pour penser que tu peux changer?
Qui es-tu pour penser?
Qui es-tu?

Who are you to think you can change the world?
Who are you to think you can change?
Who are you to think?
Who are you?

This same peeling away of ayers as we can do in meditation, as described above. But in this case we deconstruct a dharma, a purpose: changing the world. The amazing thing about this deconstruction is that if we get to the point that we can answer, “Who?” (independent even of identity) we unearth our enormous power:

Who? The continuity of the universe,…
Who are you? —a significant and dynamic scope of it—
Who are you to think? …expressed as an intelligent system…
Who are you to think you can change? …whose identity is more a matter of perspective than one of reality…
Who are you to think you can change the world? …and who simultaneously takes part in the world, contains the world, and is the world.

That’s who you are to think you can change the world.

Om mani padme hum.