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Don’t let the smiles in those photos fool you, being pregnant sucks! And to anyone who says otherwise, please just stop talking, you’re making the rest of us look like whiny, complaining weaklings.

I hit the 35-week pregnant mark on Monday, and every time someone asks me when I’m due, I say “in a couple weeks.” Ah, if only proclaiming that he was coming in a couple weeks translated into an earlier due date; it’s wishful (delusional) thinking at its finest.

While my aches and pains aren’t unique to me, I certainly feel somewhat isolated when I hear how much other women LOVE being pregnant. “I love feeling the baby move, knowing that I’m carrying this life inside me,” I hear many women say. I want to counter with, “I love when the baby decides to stop moving for a moment; my internal organs need a break from the constant beating.” Another one I hear a lot is, “I don’t really feel all that different; I’m just so excited to be a mom I guess I don’t mind the minor discomforts.” Don’t get me wrong; I am looking forward to meeting baby H, but at this moment it has as much to do with wanting to get rid of the nausea, fatigue, stomach pain and pressure, back and leg pain, and constant need to pee as it does with holding him in my arms. Does that make me a bad mother? Am I the only one who yearns for her pre-pregnancy body to come back so she can finally feel “normal” again?

Better yet, am I the only one who thinks midnight feedings and a crying baby are going to be a breeze compared to the discomforts of pregnancy? On second thought, don’t answer that, I’m afraid of what I might hear.

Like most trying life situations, at least I can say I’ll be walking away from this one with some valuable life lessons:

1) My body has limitations

Silly me, I used to think I was invincible. I believed I could do anything if I tried hard enough: overcome any obstacle, become stronger, faster, work harder, push past my limits, because heck, I don’t have limits. I was a walking, talking Nike ad on steroids. But when I traded in my workout attire and running shoes for maternity jeans and nursing bras, it was time for a reality check. Sometimes, despite my wishing and willing my body to do one thing, it has its own agenda for the day and will not cooperate. No amount of mind over matter will get me off the couch and to the gym when sharp pains are shooting down my back and legs. No amount of determination and will power will get me to do the laundry or clean the apartment after a sleepless night and a mid-morning bought of nausea. Sometimes, I am limited. Sometimes I have to accept that instead of trying to make my body cooperate with me; I need to cooperate with my body. But that doesn’t make me weak.

2) Things don’t always have to go according to plan

When I was younger, I was fairly inflexible. I believed rules were meant to be followed, schedules adhered to, and organizational systems maintained. Tell me something was going to happen, be it a trip to the dentist or a trip to Disney World, and if it didn’t happen, I became distressed. Yes, I was that kid. And that kid’s attitude still has a way of popping up from time to time in this adult’s life. What can I say, I like when plans are made well in advance, I know what to expect, and I can adjust accordingly. Becoming pregnant has set my world off balance a little. In my mind I planned to get pregnant in July (the 6 month mark past when we intended to start trying) and have the baby in March. By the start of the third trimester I’d be an established free-lance writer with a decked out nursery, and all my little baby booties in a row. At 8 months pregnant I do not yet own a single pair of baby booties. Our nursery is strewn with shower gifts and little outfits waiting to be washed, and my career as a freelance writer has failed to launch (for now). Despite all this, ready or not, baby H will be here in July. I’m guessing like his arrival, most things surrounding our son will not happen on a set schedule, and I’m learning that I can adjust.

3) Despite its limitations, the human body can do some pretty miraculous things

Pregnancy is a miracle in itself. Me becoming pregnant is beyond miraculous. To have my body bounce back after years of neglect still astounds me. To follow the elaborate string of events that must occur for two single cells to turn into a tiny person in just nine months is beyond my understanding. If I were a religious person, it would be easy to see God’s hands at work.  It is witnessing this phenomenon first hand that teaches me that while I do have to respect my limits, those limits are often a little higher than I may think upon first glance.

4) Becoming an adult isn’t about hitting some arbitrary milestone

Growing up I kept waiting for that magical moment when I would transform from a pimple-covered, pigtail wearing, lunch box toting little kid to a sophisticated adult. When I hit a certain age, say 16 with license in hand or 18 when high school ended and college was on the horizon, then certainly I’d be a grown up. Or perhaps when I land that first “big kid” job, buy a house, get married, or, like my mom always told me, become a parent, then I’m an adult. Well at 27 years old with many milestones under my belt including a baby on the way, I’ve come to realize becoming an adult has more to do with an attitude than the number of candles on a cake. It comes from the wisdom gained through life experiences and the new perspectives those experiences offer.

5) Putting someone else’s needs ahead of my own does not mean forgetting entirely about my own needs too

Raise your hand if you’ve even been on a plane. Now raise your hand if you actually pay attention to the preflight announcements. Let me refresh your memory. If the plane cabin looses oxygen all adults are instructed to first place the oxygen mask over their own nose and mouth before assisting young children. There is an important life lesson to be learned here. I bet you didn’t realize there was free advice that went along with those peanuts. How many times have you heard a parent say, “I have no time for myself anymore?” What they’re really saying is “I forgot that I am a person too, and I have needs.” It’s common to think that having a child means your desires and dreams will be relegated to the back burner, but that doesn’t have to be the case. One of the best things you can do for your child is to be a present parent, to be a parent that has the energy and desire to give all of her attention and love to the baby in the moment. This is a nearly impossible task when you forget your own needs and become drained. To meet your child’s needs it is essential to also take into account your own; so put on your oxygen mask.

6) I have an amazing husband, and I will be a much better mother because of him.

My husband is a pretty amazing man, but you might not know it just looking at him. You see, his greatness doesn’t lie in a flashy, ostentatious life or a long list of personal accomplishments (although his wall of degrees is quite impressive). His greatness is a subtle and quiet kind that sneaks up on me when I least expect it. I find in trying moments, when I am at my breaking point, my husband steps up and offers the strength and support I couldn’t muster. In areas where I fall short, he excels. It is the moment that I am ready to quit, to give up and throw my hands in the air in frustration that he calmly reminds me that I can persevere, whether it’s of my own accord or he has to carry me. As an individual I may not be up for the task of parenthood, but I’m confident that with him as my partner I can handle anything. And if our son turns out anything like his father…then I will consider myself a very lucky woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My 26 week pregnant belly demands food! Lots of food! Okay, so more like an extra 300 calories or so per day, but it sure grumbles loudly with disapproval when it’s been too long in between meals.

I’d like to take you on a culinary adventure, aka, what did Dana eat today. The first thing my refined pregnant pallet got to enjoy today was 75g of pure, orange-flavored glucose. Yummy!

Between weeks 24-28, it is recommended that women take a glucose tolerance test to screen for gestational diabetes. Similar to snorting pixie stixs for breakfast, this test requires you to down 75 grams of sugar on an empty stomach and then just quietly sit around for an hour while you wait for your pancreas to explode release insulin and remove it from your bloodstream.

After that nutritious start to my day, I came home craving protein and promptly consume scrambled eggs with spinach, bell peppers, fresh Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil. Protein is of particular importance when pregnant because the amino acids in protein form every cell in your growing baby’s body. Guidelines suggest consuming about 70 grams/day, especially during your second and third trimester when the baby grows the fastest.

My mid-morning snack of choice was a tall nonfat late from Starbucks and a petite vanilla scone. Coming in at 75mg of caffeine it fits nicely within the 200mg of caffeine permitted per a day during pregnancy and is a good start toward getting the recommended 1000-1300mg of calcium. And the scone…I swear I can’t go into Starbucks without getting one, 75 grams of glucose for breakfast or not.

Lunch consisted of whatever I could throw together quickly. A bowl of Trader Joe’s roasted red pepper and tomato soup, a broccoli cheddar lean pocket (because sometimes convenience takes precedence), and some dried mango slices.

Oh yea, and my favorite accompaniment to any meal: prenatal vitamins, DHA/fish oil, and calcium chews. When selecting a prenatal vitamin the two most important ingredients to look for are folic acid (at least 800mcg) for the prevention of neural tube defects and iron (at least 17mg)  for the production of red blood cells and subsequent transport of oxygen. Fish oil, specifically DHA and EPA, is crucial for the neurological development of the baby.

And what goes great with oodles of pills?

Water! Drinking enough water during pregnancy is very important. Besides preventing premature uterine contractions, a nasty side-effect of dehydration, it is needed to replenish your blood, which increases in volume by as much as 40% in some women. Additionally, it helps maintain adequate amounts of amniotic fluid for your baby to splash around in.

My post-workout out mid-afternoon snack for the day consisted of a yogurt and a handful of pistachio nuts. Normally I go for Greek yogurt, but with my digestive system faltering, I was hoping Activia would give it the jump start it needs. Results on that one are pending.

For my husband and me, dinners are always the most elaborate meal of the day. On tonight’s menu was salmon roasted with a dijon and horseradish topping (a recipe I had been wanting to try for awhile), garlic pea pods, red peppers, and potatoes, and a large spinach salad with peanut dressing. My husband isn’t much of a fish guy so whenever I cook salmon I make him an 8oz New York strip steak.

We finished off the meal with fresh, delicious kiwi fruit!

And because this pregnant girl can’t make it through the night without a bedtime snack… I chowed down on some graham crackers and Justins’s chocolate almond butter. Fair warning, Justin’s chocolate almond butter is addictive, and I dare you to try it without ending up spooning it directly from the jar to your mouth.

The key to my pregnancy diet: VARIETY! I try to not eat the same thing two days in a row. Also, eating smaller mini meals more frequently throughout the day has been very helpful in warding off hunger and fatigue and preventing first trimester morning sickness. Have any foods you really craved during pregnancy? Please share!

Worried your pregnancy eating habits are packing on more or less pounds than is considered normal? Here is a great tool from babycenter.com to ensure you are on track: http://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy-weight-gain-estimator. In the end, always talk with your doctor. Every woman’s body is different, as is every pregnancy.

Shield your eyes! What you are about to see may scar you for life!

It’s my 17 week pregnant belly bared for all the world (or all my lovely blog readers) to see.

I love my belly. I love its roundness, its softness, and its new-found ability to bump into things when I forget it is there. I love that my puppy has made it his new favorite pillow. I also love that it has given me an excuse to shop for some new clothes. My husband wishes his belly looked as awesome as mine.

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