Getting fat on accident

I knew that being pregnant, I’d get fat. I didn’t quite realise how fat, but I knew it was one of the (more obvious) symptoms of pregnancy.

Our friend from college, Dan, obliged and agreed to take some photos of us when my belly was a bit bigger. You can see some of Dan’s good work over at his website, Dan Au Photography (plug over). I spent the four weeks prior the shoot dreading it. Like I said earlier, I knew that being pregnant I’d get fat, but I didn’t realise how fat. I didn’t think my hips and thighs would get bigger. They did. The ridiculous exhaustion in my first two trimesters meant that I didn’t exercise very much, and the effects were obvious (at least to me!).

We get such conflicting (and noisy!) opinions about our bodies. And it seems that now, everybody feels they have the right to comment on my body. “You’re not showing” I was told when I was 14 weeks. When I was 19 weeks, it was “You’re huge!” The observations and the questions haven’t stopped. “Your boobs are so big!”; “your hips have grown”; “looks like you’re having a big baby!”; “don’t worry, if you breastfeed it will all come right off”; “your legs are swollen”. People (usually men) joke “oh wow, you’re getting fat”.

It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. And it makes me focus on the flaws in my body. When I get dressed, I check what bulges need to be smoothed, if my arms are flabby, my hips too broad, or my boobs too low, if I look fat.

And that’s just the feedback from friends. The pregnancy app on my iPhone, the magazines and books I’ve picked up and advertising everywhere screams conflicting messages at me. “love your body! It’s never been more amazing”, but then in the same breath “avoid those fattening cravings” and “how to get your pre-baby body back in 6 weeks!” The maternity bras I bought were advertised with pictures of flat stomached, big busted models.

I don’t want to care. I want to be in awe of what my body is doing at the moment. I want to be awed by my ability to grow another human life, to expand around it, to nourish it and nurture it. I want to be awed by the beauty of it – I really do think my baby belly is beautiful – and recognise the changes are all a result of grace – that God has allowed life to continue, even after the rebellion. I want to enjoy my pregnancy and the changes that it brings.

So we had our photoshoot. I had changed my mind about 7,348 times about what to wear that week, but that morning I was tired and couldn’t be bothered . Dan did a great job at making us feel comfortable and natural, but even more importantly I came to a huge realisation. I was only going to be pregnant with my first child once. Ever. This was only going to be new to me once. Ever. And I want to remember it – the thrill of watching my belly grow and dance. The love and joy husbandsylv and I share as this new life grows inside. And especially the bumps and sags and wobbles, because they’re not going to be around forever.

Sir belly

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Trauma

It was the most traumatic science class I ever sat through.

No, we weren’t disecting frogs legs or sheep’s brains or cow’s eyes.

It was a double period on a Thursday afternoon in year 10, and in Mr Duval’s science class, we watched for what felt like 7 hours a graphic video of a baby exploding from it’s mother’s hoo-ha.

I remember sitting cross legged through the entire class. I remember crying. I remember feeling queasy and faint. Even as I write, my legs are tightly crossed and I can feel the grimace on my face.

I vowed I would never get married or have children.

And then I got married. Still, the prospect of children was long away. “When husbandsylv finishes studying”, which felt like another 20 years.

And then, I got clucky. So much so, that even when I saw kittens in a pet-shop window, I cooed.

And then we got pregnant. As husbandsylv and I revelled in our secret for the first 12 weeks, I was happy and excited and confident. I bought a thousand (okay, 3) books to read, and started watching shows like “one born every minute” and found myself feeling much more calm about the process. Afterall, I’m not the first woman, ever, to give birth. (My God, imagine how Eve felt. Pretty sure she thought she was dying) And I’m pretty sure there’ll be more women after me who give birth.

And then I went to get a massage at the physio. As she painfully teased out my tense sciatica, she told me all of her nightmare pregnancy stories. She didn’t have any of her own, although she has 2 kids. But she did tell me stories about her friend, and her friend’s cousin’s aunty,  and her next door neighbour’s dog giving birth. And there were tears and there were stitches and there were early labours and forceps and emergency caesarians and deformities and babies delivered at parties. I lay there in shock (and immense pain because she was massaging pretty hard).

Suddenly, all the fears that I had as a 14 year old in Mr Duval’s science class came rushing back. What if I can’t do it? It’s going to change everything. I’m not strong enough. That’s gross! I don’t want that to happpen to my body. It took a few minutes to calm down.

I wonder if it stems from the way our (Western) culture despises children, treating them as a nuisance, an interference, an inconvenience. I wonder if it’s because we have a generation (or 3) of mothers who haven’t reallly experience suffering or war or hardship, and so when something a little challenging happens, they fear and dread it.

As one prone to anxiety, the stories don’t help. The stories aren’t appreciated. The stories are scary and a distraction from what I’m actually supposed to do – bring a new life into the world, that I will nurture and love.

Anyway, rant over. Tara Moss has some interesting (and researched, and much more articulate) thoughts that you should read. Here’s an excerpt…

There is a dominant philosophy in the Western world that says birth is something women survive, not something they actively take part in or, heaven forbid, enjoy…. According to experts, “tocophobia” – or fear of childbirth – is on the rise. A report preported 80 percent of women express common childbirth anxieties (Saisto and Halmesmaki, 2003) and up to 10 percent of women report “pathological levels of fear”… As obstetric physiotherapist Juju Sundin points out, “The fear each woman has as she enters childbirth will have a direct relationship to the progress of labour.”

(or read the full post here)

My hands are small I know, but they’re not yours

So, this was meant to be the year I was going to try doing things with my hands. I was going to bake, make, sew and plant. I was going to try and make pretty things for a change, because I’m usually very terrible at it.

The first thing I (helped) make this year was our new, awesome Ikea desk. Because I didn’t understand the printed directions, Husbandsylv had to call out instructions. When he said “put this here”, I put it there. When he said “screw it in”, I screwed it in. When he said “hammer it”, I hammered it. With my fist. And did myself an itty bitty hairline fracture on my fist.

I did, however, manage to also build our new Ikea chair, (almost) by myself, with a bung wrist. I did good.

Beautiful to me

Of course, husbandsylv thinks I’m beautiful – he’s good like that – but as long as we’ve been in Sydney, he has never had any reason to think that other man might find me attractive (at least, men don’t seem to voice that attraction). Unfortunately, in Egypt (and, we’ve discovered, in Israel and Palestine), men seem to think I’m beautiful, and want to let me know.

It’s a little bit awkward – particularly because we have been travelling around in a group of almost 50 – and as a person who is not typically “attractive”, our classmates are noticing – and questioning – the attention I’m getting.

I don’t think husbandsylv noticed until a few others pointed it out to him – since then I have felt his protective hand guiding me through streets and steering me away from leering men.

I’ve been learning to drop in the fact that I’m married, which often ends the amusing but awkward conversations rather suddenly. Today, as we walked through Palestine, a man told me he thought I was beautiful, and would always have a guide in Palestine if I ever visited again. I thanked him, as he walked alongside me and asked if I have facebook. “Yes”, I responded, “I also have a husband”. He turned and looked at the guys around me and said “which one?” When I pointed at husbandsylv, he said “ahhh, he is a very lucky man”.

 

It’s true. He is.

Happy; happy clowns

When I was in year 12, I wanted to be cool and radical so I cut my hair. It was pretty long, and BabaK wouldn’t let me go to a hairdresser, so I stood in the bathroom with scissors and kind of cut a circle around my head. This was the end result.

My lovely nephew, who was two at the time, would always sing “happy, happy clowns” every time I entered a room. It must have been a song on Playschool – a bunch of adults traipsing around in their rainbow coloured afros. It took us sometime to piece together that he was identifying  me as a “happy, happy clown”, despite my very un-colourful afro.

Now that my hair is nigh on that horrid afro I proudly walked around with as a teenager, I’m quite grateful that there are no toddler nieces or nephews around to pummel me with insults.

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

We went to Brisbane, because we were going to a conference called BLT (Brisbane Leadership Training). It was going to be awesome, except within the first 6 hours of arriving,  I fell over in the rain and hurt my knee. I didn’t cry, I just screamed. husbandsylv held my hand and rubbed my back and said nice things like “you’ll be okay” and “just breathe, baby”.
The Ambulance came, they were really nice. They gave me a whistle and then some morphein, and we all laughed because I didn’t know how to smoke a cigarette. We sat in hospital for a long time because, unsurprisingly, there were many people with worse injuries than a knee that couldn’t move. Husbandsiu stayed with me and played on his DS sometimes, and held my hand sometimes, and got me things sometimes.

And then the Dr came, and he was sad because there was swelling, and was nice when I cried, and told me that maybe probably he can’t really fix it, so we came back home.

True story.