Sometimes I really wonder about my sanity. Or perhaps just my self-image. Maybe both. When I learned in February that I was pregnant, I found the Pregnancy and Baby Web site and read Vanessa Sands' beautiful essay to her unborn son (which I still can't read without crying). There were so many thoughts and sentiments in there that I found to be so true and inspirational, including her thoughts about the pregnant female form. While she does refer to its "ridiculous hugeness," she emphasizes more the fact that women too frequently focus on how much weight they are gaining and how large they are becoming, rather than on the fact that these changes are nothing short of miraculous. I read this in February and thought to myself "Yes! That is exactly right! That is how I am going to approach this pregnancy! No worrying and moaning this time about being fat! I am going to celebrate my pregnant shape!"
I embraced these sentiments in February, and I embrace them now. But they are a heck of a lot easier to get your arms around both literally and figuratively when you don't have a seven-months pregnant stomach in the way.
I am again finding myself looking in the mirror and thinking "Oh my goodness, I'm IMMENSE!! How did I get this big? And I still have nine weeks to go! Look at my thighs -- they're rubbing together when I walk! I need to start watching what I eat!"
So much for celebration of the pregnant female form.
The only celebrating I've been doing lately is when returning teachers at school who haven't seen me since June say "What? You're seven months pregnant?? You're so small for seven months! You look great!"
Why do I look great because I'm small? Why do I inwardly preen when people tell me this? Shouldn't the fact that I'm on the small side be a source of concern, if anything? Am I so insecure and vain that I am unable to see past my normal thin state and realize that growing and supporting a new life necessarily involves a bit of cellulite on the thighs?
Having said this, pregnancy is, for me at least, a Janus-faced emotion, because while I do feel fat and awkward and unattractive, I simultaneously like being pregnant and feel special because I am pregnant. I'm growing a new life inside of me! How wonderful is that! I love feeling the baby move, seeing her grow, and knowing that she is relying solely on me at this point for everything that she needs. I will miss this connectedness after the baby is born, although she will certainly still be very reliant on me.
On a completely different note, I have for some reason in the past week started to worry about the baby being born with Down Syndrome. As I detailed so tediously in previous journal entries, Andrew and I struggled with the decision whether to have a CVS or an amnio and decided against it when the triple screen and nuchal fold tests both indicated that my risk for having a baby with Down Syndrome was much lower than both the average for my age (38) and the risk of miscarriage caused by either a CVS or amnio. But for some reason, I've started worrying again that the baby will have Down Syndrome.
I was somewhat reassured, albeit in a somewhat warped sort of way, in speaking yesterday with a pregnant friend of mine who is due a couple of weeks after me. She did have an amnio, did learn that her baby is completely fine, and she is now worried about the baby missing a finger or a toe! After speaking with her, I realized that worrying about your unborn child is just part of the whole pregnancy experience. Even if you could somehow confirm that your child was going to be born 100 percent normal and healthy, you would still find something to worry about -- perhaps the impending prospect of labor or whether you will be a good parent. And then of course the worrying never stops once the baby is born...