Friday, January 25, 2013

Big Time

Today is a good example of practicing self control to find balance. Every part of me wants to just sit here and pound out a long ranting, negative, finger pointing entry about the shit day I had yesterday. It was a bad one from the moment I got up to the moment I fell asleep, but it wouldn't be productive and would only make things worse. On to another topic: body issues, weight issues and pregnancy. Big fun, eh.

I went from being a teeny tiny little kid to a round youngster sometime between first and second grade. Maybe it was spurred on by the relocation of my family from Oregon to Washington. Maybe It was the lack of supervision offered by my two very hard working parents. It's hard to say, but I'm sure that being allowed to cook for myself and snack as much as I wanted on anything I wanted played a big part. I did not grow up in a house full of junk food, mind you. We were never allowed to have chips, cookies, soda or any of the like but there was always a full fridge and pantry and I loved to cook and bake. No peanut butter cookies? Well, I'll just whip some up! I hold no grudges in this area as I am an excellent cook in my adult life and probably wouldn't be if I hadn't had so many years of practice.

All this cooking and loving food led to a pretty consistent adding on of pounds as I grew up. In my defense, I was always a big kid even without the extra weight. By the 5th grade I was 5'6" and a size 18. No joke. I looked 20 years old but still loved comics and barbies. It was an awkward time to say the least especially because I was also responsible for dressing myself in the mornings. I wish I had photographic evidence of some of the outfits I thought were cool. Lets just say that 90210 was on the air and I was in awe of all the brightly colored outfits consisting of baby doll dresses 4 sizes too big, and that spandex bike shorts were worn under everything. I was not popular but in my head, I was awesome.

It was around this time that my mother became involved and put me on Jenny Craig. Try telling a 5th grader that she can now only have frozen/freeze dried food items and also has to start taking them to school with her for lunch. It won't be pretty and a 5th grader really isn't emotionally or mentally equipped to understand the hows and whys of this humiliating experience. Everyone who had a television knew what JC was at that time, and school went from bad to worse in that very first day. I can still cry just thinking about how the next few weeks played out. I was no longer a carefree kid. I was a weight obsessed, secret food addict that went from awesome to troll and never really recovered. I managed to sabotage the plan in a matter of weeks and was free again to eat as I pleased. Success! Success?? That is debatable.

My height and weight continued to rise over the years and by the time I turned 18 I was 5'9" and a solid size 18/20. I looked great and I didn't even know it. I started working at a plus sized clothing store called The Avenue, and was finally learning that the rules made up by the fashion industry about how fat women should be allowed to dress did not work for me. I did not want to be in baggy shirts and pants anymore, nor did I want to be subjected to dresses that looked like couch upholstery or forced to wear "suck em in" shorts and panties under everything. No matter how badly I wanted stylish clothing, it just wasn't available in my size or in my area. I would drive a couple of times a year to the nearest Layne Bryant, which was almost 2 hours away. I became determined to dress cute even if it meant paying way too much money for items, and even sometimes buying maternity clothing. How unfair is that? Maternity clothing is often still way cuter than plus size lines at the same store. Target, I am so looking at you! I found ways to work around the limited availability of cute clothes mostly by utilizing thrift stores. Even if I couldn't find it brand new, somebody else had and I was happy to take their donated leftovers. Altering and tailoring cheap 2nd hand items became a weekly occurrence.

I was concerned from the start of my pregnancy about gaining weight, not being able to find clothes and how these things would factor into my already dodgy self confidence. Most of the time, I felt great about how I looked and carried myself as if my confidence was unwavering even on days when I started out crying in front of my closet about what a hopeless fat ass I was. Unlovable. Unwantable. Unworthy. A woman doomed to be single and eventually living the life of Goldie Hawn in Death becomes her. Fat greasy face covered in frosting being eaten right out of the tub and 500 cats over running an apartment. My nightmare. However, I was thrilled with myself that 4 months in I had not gained a single pound and the only clothing item that had left circulation was my regular jeans. I was the best! And then I met my OBGYN. I had been warned by every single person that I mentioned his name to that he was a great doctor but a total ass. His endorsement always came with a warning label: he has no bedside manner and is going to be on you about your weight right from the start. I was already feeling negative about him before we even met.

Our first meeting went well enough. Just an ultrasound (after a 4 hour wait!) and not much mention about my weight other than him saying he tells all of his patients to follow a diabetic diet plan subsisting of 1,800 calories a day and NO SUGAR AT ALL. If you've ever had a food craving, pregnant or not, you can probably relate to how unrealistic this seemed to me. Our second meeting was a little more bumpy. He had no interest in me at all other than my weight. He entered the room, sat down facing away from me, asked if I was experiencing any pain or cramping and then went into a 15 speech about my weight, gestational diabetes and how I was sure to develop it and eventually die an early death because of my obesity. I felt a heated dislike for him. A loathing that made me fear I would lose my cool and just punch him in the throat if our encounters continued on this path. But he was the doctor that everyone said I needed to be with. The best high risk delivery Doctor in 3 states. Did I mention that I am considered high risk because of my BMI? This fact is what robbed me of my wanting a midwife and a very non medical birthing plan. Frustrating doesn't do it justice.

I had voiced to my fella that I was nervous about him being with me at future appointments because of how this doctor seemed to be obsessed with my weight and my weight only. He never asked me about medications, family history, current medical concerns, my emotional state, my mental state or my birthing plan. It was all about my fat ass and the number on the scale. I was terrified that he would blurt out my weight in front of my partner. This fear turned out to be valid on our 3rd meeting. Doctor was on his usual soap box about my size, my weight, the complications I was guaranteed to have because of these factors, my glucose tests, the fact that my stomach was bigger than it should be even though my uterus was measuring correctly and so on. All while either having his back to me or scowling at me over the top of his glasses. I was reaching a point where I had heard about enough.

I pointed out that even through the Thanksgiving holiday I had managed to maintain and that I was pretty proud of the fact that in my second trimester I had gained only a single pound. Much to my absolute horror, he blurted out my starting weight and my current weight right in front of my boyfriend and topped it off by telling me that though that's pretty good, he wanted to see my weight going down. I was in a state of that embarrassed kind of shock that caused my ears to ring and my face to feel like it was on fire. I could not get out of the exam room fast enough and was very glad that I had driven myself to the appointment so I could cry in my car on the way home without judgement. By the time I got home, I was livid and already planning my letter of complaint and how I was going to get out of this man being my guide through the single most important, and intimate experience of my life. He would not be delivering my baby and I would not be subjected to his lack of bed side manner one more moment. Hell hath no fury like a pregnant fat girl who's just been humiliated about her weight in front of the one person who never needed to know that number.

I spent the next few days calling other clinics, meeting other doctors and submitting my request for a change of provider. I wasn't feeling the kind of support that I wanted from my partner who seemed to defend the offenses of this doctor and was even unwise enough to suggest that I was blowing it out of proportion and making too much of it. He's lucky that I like him so much or I may be writing this entry from prison. Even if it was a hormonal reaction to a minor offense, that is not what I needed to hear and I kept right on making other plans with or without his support on the matter. I'm happy and relieved to say that I gained his support, found an OBGYN that I love and she was able to get me in for my March delivery. She is supportive and thorough and even though I did develop gestational diabetes, she doesn't make me feel like this is because I have no self control or am a bad person because I ate some freaking cake. She has gently guided me through the ins and outs of my condition and assures me that I will deliver a healthy baby and the diabetes will subside as long as I continue to take care of myself. I trust her. I feel comfortable with her. I do not regret my decision and by taking better care of myself with her help, I have gained only 14 pounds. It took some searching and a lot of stress but I found the Doctor that is a perfect fit for me.

 However, now that I am nearing 32 years old and 32 weeks pregnant, not much has changed as far as clothing options. The Avenue is still not my style, my town still doesn't have a Layne Bryant, the plus section of Macy's is excessively expensive and segregated to a location outside of the actual store at our local mall, Target is hit or miss with cute plus sized items and still has a maternity section that is twice the size of the women's department but doesn't offer plus sizes above an XXL. We do have a Motherhood store but their plus section is two wracks and they stock a very limited amount of each size so you can never get what you want anyway. It's a sad state of affairs.

This caused me to reach out to my fellow big beauties and prompt them to tell their secrets. No surprise that it was all Internet shopping. This is great and all but when you are a size 22/24 you really need to try things on especially when your baby bump sticks out a foot in front of you and your ass is somehow even wider than before. Not to mention the added cost and the waiting for shipping. When I'm having a bad day and I need a little retail therapy, it isn't ideal to look at tiny pictures and then have to wait for days or weeks to have my "feel good fashions" arrive. When they get here, its worth it. Patience is a virtue I'm determined to keep throughout this pregnancy.

Some of the websites that were offered up by friends are as follows and I encourage any of you pregnant, plus size, or pregnant and plus sized ladies to take a peak and not lose hope. You are freaking gorgeous and there are cute clothing items, good doctors, and great men out there. You just have to do a little leg work and find them. Happy hunting!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Adding Insult to Injury

We all know that women are sometimes very sensitive by nature. It's no secret, and no mystery when it comes to the fairer sex. We are just emotional creatures, but I have always felt this was a strength. My mother, in the midst of a huff with my dad, has often looked at me and said, "I'm so fucking glad that I'm a girl.", and I've pretty much always felt the same way. This is not to imply that there aren't a ton of very sensitive, thoughtful, nurturing men out there. I know a lot of them and I value each one in high regard. It's just that in this particular instance I'd like to stay on the topic of women, my pregnant self in particular, and how easy it is to let my emotions get the better of me.

In my case, I have always been labeled the family drama queen. This, of course, irritates me to no end but I at least have enough self control to not freak out and prove the theory true when the topic arises. I'm just one of those personality types that is going to tell you how I feel no matter what. I like to think of myself as a talented and creative communicator rather than a drama queen. Kim Kardashian is a drama queen. Taylor Swift is a drama queen. I am a productive talker, or so I tell myself. The drama queen theory has only gotten worse as my pregnancy progresses, and I'm honestly finding less reasons to argue it on a daily basis.

I don't know that this holds true for all pregnant women but movies, television and my own experience have told me over the years that pregnant women will cry at the drop of a hat. Even the smallest and most innocent of comments can set me into a whirlwind of what ifs, whys, and unrealistic fantasies of telling people off. This shit will stick with me for days, even weeks. I can even get myself worked up about insulting encounters that happened 10 years ago. I can take it back to junior high if I let myself keep going once I start. Most of the time these insulting encounters happen in a way that I've come to refer to as the "staircase affect" and is part of why I tend to hold onto things.

Let me explain: think of one of those times when a friend or stranger says something they see as innocent (or maybe they mean it to be hurtful) and it kind of takes you off guard so you don't react to it right away. This would be at the bottom of the metaphorical staircase. You then continue your journey up but halfway you stop and think, "That was a really shitty thing for them to say. Why would they say that?", but they aren't even on the stairs anymore. They've moved on. By the time you reach the top, you may be really sad and insulted, or really pissed, and already going through the amazingly witty list of responses you should have come back with. The amazing way that you should have defended yourself, but you're already at the top of the stairs and the moment has passed so you are now stuck with this head full of insult, injury and regret about not standing up for yourself. I think everyone can relate, pregnant or not. Male or female. If not, you are my hero. Teach me your Jedi ways.

This scenario has gotten huge for me as I get more and more emotional. I don't want to be that jerk pregnant lady that freaks out over every single thing that anyone says, because believe me, at this point I am feeling so unsexy, so uncomfortable, so unwanted that I could turn almost any comment into an insult. My poor, poor boyfriend knows this truth all too well. So, if the offender is lucky, I bottle it up and take it with me. If they are unlucky, they leave our encounter without a face. Not fair to either of us, really. Not fair at all to whomever catches the pointy end of my wrath later on when I finally lose my shit. The art of dealing with it is a little thing called balance. Become familiar with it. Utilize it. Win with it. You really have to be conscious about choosing your battles if you want to win the war. Hormones are the enemy and they want to take out your entire platoon in the bloodiest fashion imaginable.

Another, bigger issue for me is the dreaded horrible boyfriend dream. You know what I'm talking about. Those dreams where you catch him lying, cheating, abandoning or worse. I have had them on occasion during every major relationship of my life but now they are a weekly occurrence. They feel real when they are happening no matter how the scene is playing out. In dream land, it's just as normal to fly into the tree house and see him pounding your 3rd grade teacher as it to track him into a bedroom at a party and see him doing the unspeakable with some faceless blond that has the nicest body you could possibly think up. It could even be with a friend or coworker of yours which is all the more difficult to shake off. The worst part is that you never think to yourself that you must be dreaming when you are actually in it. It's real. It's happening. He is actually betraying you and you can't even land a good punch because hitting never works in my dreams. Even if you feel a wave of relief upon waking up, you still feel as angry and hurt as if he had actually done those things. Then the paranoia sets in. "If he could do that so easy in my dreams he could do it in reality". You may even be tempted to start acting like a detective. Looking through his pockets for numbers or condom wrappers. Checking in on his whereabouts when he isn't with you. Dropping by his work to make sure he's actually there. You may even go so far as to invade his privacy and look through his phone. In some sick way, you may even hope to catch him at something just so you don't feel crazy. Dangerous ground, my little darlings. A minefield of unlikely possibilities that will probably only hurt you in the long run. Ever heard that saying "holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die"? It's true. Especially when the resentment is over fictional offenses.

My approach with my fella in regards to my endless insecurity and horrible dreams is to talk to him about them. I try to make it very clear that I am referring to dream Jason, not real life Jason. I tell him all about jerkhole's offenses in detail so that he will understand why I'm suddenly genuinely upset with him when he hasn't really done anything wrong. It's difficult to do and difficult for him to hear, but it has to be done or it will only get worse as the day goes on. If I don't speak up, the next day will almost definitely be a stay in bed and cry and feel horrible about myself day. This is bad for me and bad for baby. If I communicate with him, he at least has the opportunity to vindicate himself by assuring me that I am beautiful, loved, wanted and that I can trust him in real life no matter how big a lying douche he is in my dreams. Just getting it out and having him comfort me is often the best remedy and we usually end up laughing about it. Communication is a huge part of the balancing act that I try to perform all day, every day. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it fails miserably. I just try to not be too hard on myself or anyone else and remember that even the bad stuff is all just a part of the journey that will end with meeting the love of my life, and that is a huge comfort.

So, if there is truth in my family referring to me as the drama queen, I'll never admit to it. If there is a situation in which I feel insulted, I will try to be calm in my reaction. If I miss my opportunity to stand up for myself, I'll take it as a learning experience for next time and try to let it go. If dream boyfriend continues to behave badly, I'll try to remember that he's not actually the man that sleeps next to me and greets me every single day by saying "good morning sunshine". If I feel like real life boyfriend is being a stupid jerk, I'll try to refrain from murdering him and remember that this journey isn't easy for him either and he probably isn't really being a stupid jerk. I will attempt to choose my battles wisely, avoid drinking the poison that is resentment, and remember that even when I feel crazy, it's no one's fault and it will pass. Hopefully. Be patient with yourself, with others and especially with your partner. Remain calm and find balance through communication.

In the not exactly accurate but still hilarious words of the late, great George Carlin, “Here's all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I'd like to briefly discuss the topic of touch. Especially the topic of touching pregnant women. Every pregnant woman has more than likely experienced that dreaded strange hand coming at them in public. Nowhere is safe. Strangers at the salon, the grocery store, the gym, restaurants, and on the street will eventually get that glazed over look and walk towards you, mouth gaping like a zombie with arms outstretched, and germy hands ready to molest your protruding belly. Prepare yourself!

 I feel very lucky to have already been fat when I got pregnant because people don't seem to really notice, or aren't sure if they would be offensive by asking about if I'm pregnant. I've become secretive about my body in public and am more than happy to be able to hide under my bulky winter coat. I try to never rub my tummy or let it slip out of hiding in public places just to avoid the stranger danger that is sure to come my way should anyone catch on. My personal bubble has become increasingly smaller with each passing week of my pregnancy and my ability to be polite about being touched is minimal, even with friends and family. I'm already a protective mother lioness and you are taking your life in your hands when you reach for the belly that contains my unborn child.

The hardest part is that it isn't always strangers. Sometimes friends are the worst offenders. They are excited for you and are often really curious and just can't help themselves. In these cases, I try to be patient and simply remind people that a flat palm with no pressure is really the only acceptable way to do i,t and often by invite only. Mommy doesn't always want to be touched and really, there isn't much point in your trying if the baby is being still. No movement means nothing to feel, and nothing to feel means you're just some annoying weirdo with your hand under my boobs. I'm guilty of this myself. I can think back to plenty of my own offenses on pregnant friends and family members. Poking fingers and belly jiggling to see if I could stir the creature awake are now mortifying in hindsight. I'm lucky to have had friends and family that were as patient as I try to be now.

I have figured out some ground rules when it comes to being the eager friend or the unknowing stranger around a pregnant woman:

1. Always greet mommy first. Do not act like her belly is the only important thing about her.

2. Unless you are a kindly old woman who cannot resist the urge to touch a pregnant belly, keep your fucking hands to yourself.

3. Unless the pregnant stranger, acquaintance, or friend has already shared the news or their water has just broken in front of you DO NOT ASK pregnancy questions. Trust me, you don't want to be that asshole that asks a plump person when they are due only to ruin their day because they aren't pregnant at all.

4. Learn to read the room. If the pregnant person seems at all moody, do not touch. You may not get that hand back.

5. Only after asking if the baby is moving and gaining permission should you touch that belly.

6. A flat, gentle palm is acceptable. Poking, jostling, shaking, flicking, tapping, squeezing or prodding will likely get you well deserved tongue lashing and maybe a black eye.

7. Be aware that sometimes lingering hands are just as bad as unwanted hands. If you don't feel anything and mom isn't directing you toward a spot that may yield a kick, take your hand back or you may lose it.

8. It is never too late to abort the mission! If you forget yourself and realize mid reach that you have forgotten your manners, simply stop yourself and ask mommy if baby is active and if it's alright to touch.

9. Do not begin your encounter by telling a pregnant woman she is huge, as big as a house, must be having twins, or by asking if she swallowed a basketball. It's not funny and she is probably not feeling super thin and gorgeous. This will definitely get you slapped or cried on if it's followed up with a belly molestation.

10. Be respectful and don't take it personally if you get snapped at or she turns her body away from your reach. It's her right as a human being, as well as a soon to be mother to decide if she is going to allow you to touch her or not. Getting upset because you're embarrassed at the outcome of your actions is only going to make things worse. Just say you didn't mean any harm, wish her a lovely day and move on. Trust me, with the heightened emotions a pregnant woman is housing, you may be the one getting an apologetic phone call later.

Just some thoughts. Really, just try putting yourself in her shoes. As you are right this second, would you want people, strangers or not, to lay hands on your body every time they see you? I didn't think so. Now add to this equation a living human being developing inside your body that you are already in charge of keeping safe and happy. Does this make the idea of hands on your stomach any more appealing? I thought not. Just be aware of personal space, heightened emotions and the safety of your appendages.

One of my favorite visual examples of this is Miss Riki Lake in her role as Pepper Walker in the classic Jon Waters flick, Crybaby. In the opening scenes of the movie, which is set in the 50's in Baltimore surrounding two social groups of high school students, everyone is lining up for flu shots that are being administered by nurses and doctors in the classic white uniforms. A nurse approaches the very pregnant looking Pepper Walker who is standing in line knitting a baby garment. Smiling ear to ear, the nurse reaches out and puts her hand on Pepper's belly. Unwise even for a medical professional. Her gesture is promptly cut off by having her arm twisted behind her back and being marched up to the doctor. Way to go, Pepper! Just sayin', it doesn't matter who you are or where you are, if you invade the personal space of an expectant mother, you get what you deserve. Unless your Johnny Depp. If you're Johnny Depp you can touch all you want.

Monday, January 21, 2013

(Mood) Swings and Roller Coasters

You've probably heard a lot of things about pregnant women in your life. Terms like "crazy pregnant lady", "hormonal", or "pregnancy brain" may come to mind. I can tell you now from a place of experience that there is not a single thing that applies across the board. No two women will have the same symptoms, or display the same characteristics. Although, crying is the unfortunate, but common factor. Since I found out I was expecting, I started to read a huge amount of forums and blogs on the topic from new moms, and veteran mothers a like. Some are laugh out loud funny and others are really heartbreaking. I have heard stories about women in early pregnancy going to jail for assault because they suddenly hate everything about their partner and are prone to aggressive outbursts that have gone so far as to include physical assault, drag out brawls, and breaking everything in the house. Others may share sweet stories about partners that insist on rubbing tired feet, never letting their lady lift a finger, and how much closer they've become since they found out about the pregnancy. My journey lies somewhere in the middle ground. Between the field of wild flowers and the path of burning hot coals. So lets talk mood swings!

In my case, it wasn't anything I noticed right away. I have been on anxiety/depression medication off an on for the better part of 12 years so that may have played a part in the beginning. When I think back on the first couple months, I was handling things smashingly well. I was a woman on top of the world! A beautiful, sweet, funny man in my life and a baby growing in my belly. Cloud 9! In reality, I was a mess. I was so emotional that I couldn't keep my head on straight. I often cried at work, cried at home, cried with friends, cried alone. I was in a constant state of self doubt and very afraid that the only reason my fella was still hanging around was because of the baby. I was constantly telling myself that he didn't care about me at all and that he must be secretly resentful of having to give up his "fun" life for this new existence of stress and responsibility. The mental anguish I was putting myself through was only rivaled by the suddenly increased amount of physical pain I was in. I've struggled with back and shoulder pain for years due to an old work injury, but now it was becoming something I couldn't manage and the pain medications I had come to rely on were no longer an option in my eyes.

On one particularly rough day at work I had the opportunity to speak to my spa manager and our owner about what I was going through (I'm an Esthetician, btw). I gather that even through the crying and snot and gasping for air, they got the message because I was permitted to leave my position at the first job I have ever really loved a short 7 days later on my 31st birthday. It's a decision that I still struggle with. I couldn't be the employee that I was and the guilt of feeling like I was letting people down was not something I was prepared to deal with on top of everything else. I truly wish that I had been able to power through and work until I was ready for my maternity leave. I still feel a huge amount of guilt and disappointment when I think about it. On the upside, I have been mostly pain free since I made the choice to leave and this tells me that I did the right thing. Tomorrow I may still have a good cry about it, but right this second, I'm happy that I made the tough choice and can be sure that it was not a snap judgment fueled by hormones.

 I have to take it one day at a time. That's just how it is now. I could wake up feeling fabulous, full of optimism and energy, and by lunch be hating the way my body looks and crying because I saw one of those awful animal abuse commercials. Lets try an example of a moment in my mind: I wake up feeling fabulous and head to the bathroom...

 I have to pee. This baby is really pressing on my bladder. How is a small human going to come out of my vagina? I bet he won't seem so small during labor. I'm going to give birth to a full grown man with a beard and a beer in his hand. What happens if I have to have an episiotomy during labor? What if it goes wrong?  Labor is going to suck. No, Autumn! You'll do great. But what if I don't? What if I can't handle it? Animals make it seem so easy. At least I don't have to have a litter. What if I did have a multiple birth? God, I hate Kate Goslin. What an awful human being. I hope I'm a good person. Who am I kidding? I'm a selfish jerk. I'm so unproductive. I never should have left work so early in my pregnancy. We could really use that money. I can't believe I'm living with my parents again in my 30's. I hope Jason is happy here. I hope he feels at home in my parent's house. I should really be doing more to help around the house. Man, we need a new dishwasher. If I was working I could buy one. I'll sink my first paycheck into one when I go back to work. I hope they'll rehire me. I bet they think I'm crazy for the way I left. Maybe I am crazy. Crazy people are so nuts. You'd have to be crazy to be on reality television. I hate those reality shows about animal abusers. I should volunteer at a shelter. Oh those poor kitties! But I can't be around that many cat boxes. I would be useless. I am useless. If I was thinner I wouldn't have been in such pain and I could have stayed at work longer. I hate my body. How can Jason stand to even look at me? He has never bought me flowers so he must not really love me. If I wasn't so fat he would buy me flowers. What an asshole. I should bring up the flower thing later. Maybe I'll just buy myself some flowers! We're out of toilet paper. Am I the only one that ever restocks this bathroom? Bunch of lazy bastards. I really want toast.

.....end morning trip to pee.

It happens that fast, folks. I could leave a room with a smile on my face and come back 5 minutes later so worked up that I can't decide if I should cry or yell. Thank goodness that I have an exceedingly patient man in my life, a father that is as much a friend and confidant as a parent, and a mother that gets me because we are so much alike. I know that I have it easy and am a very lucky individual. I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, healthy pets, loving and supportive friends and family and a level enough head to remain calm for the most part, but it's all easy too lose sight of. Like every other expectant mother on the planet, I may have a day or two of total dismay and distress, lose my keys/phone/coat/gloves regularly when they are right in front of me, and flip flop from happiness to misery a hundred times an hour in my head, but deep down I am blissful and I know I'm not alone in my journey. I find that the best remedy for all the negativity that I let sneak in is to simply stay aware of the big picture and not get hung up on the small details. If you are one of the unlucky majority to suddenly hate everything that your partner says and does, from the smell of his shampoo to the way he walks, take comfort in the fact that it will pass and all the fondness will retun. I actively practice letting the little stuff roll off, and retraining my brain to go in a positive direction when it starts to go toward that dark place. It's a survial tactic. Sometimes it is easier said than done, so just keep trying. Everything is going to play out the way it's supposed to, and in reality, you don't have much control over it. Find ways to deal. Find beauty in small things. Find solace anywhere you can. Get lost in music, books, movies, and nature instead of in your own head. Don't be so hard on yourself! The only advice I really have to offer on the topic is to remain calm and love yourself.

In the words of the always fabulous Rupaul, "If you don't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?".

P.S. I will write a later entry just for partners and fellow future parents. A little how to on not getting yourself into trouble, and making mommy feel a little more stable. Trust me, husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends/wives need all the help they can get when it comes to dealing with the crazy, hormonal, wonderful, beautiful pregnant lady in their life.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The ages old question: mistake or surprise?

My intent with this blog is to shine a little light, and even a little humor, on the chaotic journey of my pregnancy as a plus sized soon to be mama. Mostly, I just need a productive outlet for some of the mess that fills my head but I truly hope that I can help someone along the way. So, here we go.

I hear that the best place to start is at the beginning, so lets go with that. A bit of history to my story could be pages long if you give me the chance, so I will try to make it brief. I met my fella through friends at a bar. I knew that I liked him immediately, I mean instantly, for various reasons. The reasons that stand out to me now were his ability to make me laugh, his lovely eyes, his rather burly red beard, and the fact that I was comfortable enough on our first meeting to do the Dougie at the table. If you aren't familiar with the Dougie, can remedy that. It was a couple of months after our first encounter, New Years Eve 2011, that really got the ball rolling. It was almost midnight when we ran into each other at a local bar and he stopped me in my tracks, demanding that I stay put until the countdown. Our first kiss started before midnight and ended sometime after. I was smitten from the word go. It's no secret between us that I did the pursuing. He is 5 years younger than me and was very comfortable with his bachelor lifestyle of living in a party house with several roommates, playing video games for hours on end, and having disposable income. I took the lead and so begins the story of our rocky start.

In the first few months, I was little more than a lady friend. This was not ideal for me, and I did my share of paranoid wondering, "what is he doing and who is he doing it with?", when we weren't together. Not wise, my dears. Don't let your mind go there. I brought up the defining of our relationship when an old flame asked me out to dinner and I realized that I felt guilty at the idea of going without telling him about it. The conversation was the very first baby step into our committed relationship.

Over the next few months we spent more and more time together. Mostly spent laughing hysterically, drinking wine, and having sex. The typical honeymoon phase. Fun beyond words, but not enough for this lady. In the midst of our courting were issues of trust and jealousy, fidelity, and what my role really was in his life. Our first attempt at a relationship failed in a matter of weeks. I wasn't feeling valued or appreciated and, though it hurt my heart to do so, I called it off. This seemed to peak his attention in a way I hadn't anticipated. In my experience with men, once broken up with, they will simply bury their pain or hurt pride in another (hotter) girls bed. Instead, he wanted to see me the next day, and the day after that. A very long 3 days later, we had a conversation that still sticks with me. It went something like this:

me: "I guess the question is are you happy being single and free, or do you care enough about me to let your life get complicated?"

him:"Lets complicate the shit out of this."

I still had my doubts but I was already in love with him and this small bit of talk was close enough to something out of a movie to make me open up again.

The following weekend was the 4th of July and we joined some friends for a very sunny day of bbqing, drinking, games and fireworks. Mostly drinking, and it was spectacular! Our fun ran over into the wee hours of the morning, and all sense of responsibility and forethought went right in the garbage along with our final beer bottles. It was 4 weeks later when I realized I was a day late on my normally dependable cycle starting. Annoyed and sure it was a fluke, I went to the store and purchased a 3 pack of pregnancy tests and a box of tampons. I was sure that as soon as I had a negative test, my period would start. I could not have been more wrong.

My heart started to beat out of my chest as I watched that evil second pink line forming on that stick. People often use phrases like "knock me over with a feather" or "at a loss for words" but these do no justice to how I felt standing in my bathroom with that dubious, pee soaked stick in my hand. I couldn't have told you my name if you asked me. It wasn't a loss for words but a loss of the ability to speak. It could easily have been an hour if it had been 30 seconds of me staring at that test before I regained myself and tore open a second. Same results. Still unbelievable. Surely, these tests were faulty or damaged. I bought more from different drugstores and even had a friend that was definitely not pregnant take one to be sure that I wasn't receiving false positives. It was true and I was screwed. My mind was racing with a mixture of total joy and complete panic. How was I going to tell him? How would he react?

I prepared myself for a negative reaction on his part and told myself that he was allowed to freak out as well. That I would have to forgive his initial reaction and forget anything he said in the first conversation. I had, after all, had a few days to get used to the idea and he deserved the same. My fears about his reaction were confirmed within seconds of my news and though I was expecting abortion to be his first request, it didn't make it any easier to hear. I spent the next few days crying and actually feeling guilty that my decision was already made. I was not giving this baby up in any way, shape or form. I was going to be a mother with or without a partner to be a father. I had told him I would think about it knowing that my mind was made up because I wanted to give him a few days to get used to the idea himself.

When we spoke about it again a few days later, I confirmed that I was going through with it with or without him and that I hoped he could find a positive way to deal with that. His response surprised me again. He was on board with whatever I wanted and vowed to stand by me and our baby. I was thrilled but wary, still unsure how his opinion may change in the next few months, but here we are at 31 weeks and we couldn't be happier. His fears and resistance to the idea of "growing up" have given way to the excitement of fatherhood and to the strength of the partnership we've created. Where fear once filled me up is now a flood of joy every time I hear him ask, "How's our son today?", when he gets home from work. Or the way his eyes get as wide as saucers when he feels a good kick, sees our boy move across the surface of my ever swelling tummy, or gets a chance to be there for an ultrasound.  We are expecting our healthy baby boy in March and now, our biggest disagreement on the topic is about names. 

My point in all of this, aside from filling in a little back story, is to show any women that may be in a situation like mine with an unplanned pregnancy and a partner you are still getting to know, to remain calm. Every one's experience will differ but if you're feeling that overwhelming sense of fear, unsure about the future, or may be facing it alone, take a moment to think about the amazing things that are happening inside your body and to really give yourself credit where it's deserved. Your strengths, your thoughtfulness, your intelligence, your nature will do you well if you let them. You'll figure it all out in time and so will he. Don't let yourself become negative about something that could end up being the best thing that ever happened to you. Ultimately, becoming a mother is a choice and you have to do what is best for you and your situation without concern for the judgement others may offer. You know what's best for you, and that's all there is to it. Is an unplanned pregnancy a mistake? Well, that all depends on how you look at it.

To quote Roseanne, the mother of all mothers, "A mistake is something you wouldn't do over again if given the chance, but a surprise is something you didn't even know you wanted until you got it."