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The Weight Rant

Let me say from the outset that I have never been "thin." There is no recorded history of it that I can find in my family archives. I remember shopping in the Juniors section way too young, and feeling good about that for some reason, though never actually feeling good about my always just a little too round body. Looking back at photos of me in high school, at 5 foot 4 and hovering around 130+ pounds, I realize now that I looked great. I had big boobs, shapely legs. I was sexy. And I hated my not-skinny body with a passion.

In the intervening years, from then to now, my weight has traveled a slow yo-yo, ever so briefly resting back at that 135-ish place, and bobbing up to 155 or more in the peak years.

Most of the last three years, in which I have thoroughly eschewed anything resembling dessert (save for fresh fruit or the occasional spoon of jam on toast), taken weekly walks, and practiced Pilates a rigorous 3 to 4 times a week, I have hovered at a stable 151 — making peace with myself, feeling sexy enough, and though not as slim as I would like, proud at least of my new six-pack stomach, visible under a thin layer of soft belly fat.

All of this to say that, currently, at 13 weeks of pregnancy, and 159 pounds and holding, why do I feel like such a COW?

First of all, there's the self-loathing, which I should already know far better than to indulge in, given my strong awareness of the years I wasted scorning my practically svelte former self. It was only AFTER my first trimester that I read the sage words of one pregnancy book informing me that I should not gain more than 4 to 5 pounds in my first trimester, and that I would not lose any weight from here on out, only gain. At the rate of at least one pound a week.

Don't ask me why this was a surprise. It's embarrassing. I honestly thought that perhaps my current stores of lipids could be called upon first, before reinforcements were added. I actually hoped to lose weight somehow in the first tri. Huh.

(Of course, I have a friend who is two weeks ahead of me in this process and did lose weight in her first three months due to chronic vomiting, for which she has had to take medication. No, I would not trade places with her, but yes, I do envy her a little.)

Not to mention that I had not accounted for how sleepy and strange the early weeks would be, putting the kibosh on my Pilates practice, making my previously pleasant three-mile walks an impossible dream. Plus, with the surging progesterone levels leaving my breath short, my interest in exercise nearly evaporated.

To be clear, the useless activity is the time when I sit and wish that I'd lost 20 pounds before starting this endeavor. Sigh. And the time spent obsessing on whether I had already hit 155 before getting pregnant, or was at my almost consistent 151 at that point. The crucial issue being whether I've been on track according to the aforementioned book, or whether I've already FAILED.

I am still seeing my Pilates instructor for private sessions once a week. I've replaced the group Pilates classes with prenatal yoga, which is more abundantly available in the Bay Area. And I've purchased three prenatal exercise DVDs that I fully intend to use (one Pilates, one general exercise, and one belly dance).

Still, how can a few pounds (whether four or eight) feel so astonishingly BAD? My normally 36-D bust is now at a 40-D+ and counting. I dream of little winged cherubs that would flutter beneath each boob and help hold it aloft. My arms and legs feel like tree trunks. My neck is thicker. My upper arms are...robust. Sure, some of this is probably pregnancy-related water retention. Also not helpful is the new relaxin-induced big gut phenomena: Within moments of the end of the first meal of the day, gas swells my belly, and my now-slowed-down and thoroughly inflated intestines push forward on at least four of that six-pack, giving me a rather overly round profile at a time when I should only be barely showing.

Every woman is different, true. This is my robust, doughy, path. So, yes, I will waddle it with dignity — if only I would just get those recommended 20-minute waddles into my daily schedule.