This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

The halfway point

About a month before I found out I was pregnant my friend Carol mentioned that her gym was running a deal where two people could share a personal trainer once a week for a significant discount. Since then we’ve been spending an hour every Friday morning together with a trainer named Laura, and then lying in bed for the subsequent two days plotting ways to bomb Laura’s house. Our text messages in the hours following the workout look like this:

“Feeling it in my butt. Want to die. Is homicide a crime?”
“Not if we make it look like an accident.”
“She doesn’t have any kids. No one will miss her.”
“But she does have a dog.”
“Then let’s leave a bowl of food behind.”

Our workouts are brutal, filled with squats and lunges and exercises I’ve never heard of, and last Friday morning as Carol and I were walking from the car toward the building she stopped short, dropped her lower jaw and pointed directly toward my lower extremities. “You’re waddling,” she said, as plainly as if she were pointing out that I had a piece of spinach lodged in my teeth, the way friends warn each other of potentially embarrassing situations. Heather, you look like you were screwing a watermelon and it got stuck in your wee waw. Just a heads up. NOT AWKWARD AT ALL.

Turns out I’ve gained all my weight in such a way that it is already affecting the way I walk, the way I stand up out of a chair, the way I roll off the bed. I can barely go up a flight of stairs without falling on the floor, clutching at my heart, and calling out to my dead wife Ethel. I’m carrying the baby in my back more than I ever did Leta, and already it’s hindering almost every movement of my body. And so when people ask me how I’m feeling now that I’m halfway through, I have to hold up a finger and ask them to wait a second while I shift my weight to the other foot. And by then I’m usually too out of breath to summon an answer.

There was a part of me that wanted to keep my pregnancy a secret from Laura so that every week as we warmed up on the treadmill she’d think to herself, hmmmm… weird. Should I talk to her about her diet? Maybe ask her to lay off the Twinkies? And I’m sure it must be strange for her to watch one of her clients return each week a bit rounder than before, because it’s certainly strange for me. Yes, I know I am naturally thin, and because I am so tall my weight gain does not show on my body like it would if I were several inches shorter. But this isn’t really about the way I look as it is about the way I feel, and I think pregnancy is such an equalizing experience this way for most women. We have little control over what’s going with our bodies, and I am no different than anyone else in feeling at times surprised, sometimes helpless, sometimes frightened. My body feels heavier, more sluggish, less agile, and while I know it’s only temporary that doesn’t mean it is any less disorienting.

And I think that’s the best description I can give for what its feel like in this stage of my second pregnancy: this body does not feel like my own. Sometimes when I’m trying to roll out of bed in the morning I’m like, whose boobs are these? I do not recognize these legs. And because this is my second pregnancy I am well aware that things only get more uncomfortable from here, no need to give me a warning that begins with the detestable phrase, “Just wait…” I can guarantee that every time you use that phrase in conversation with a pregnant woman you are earning cosmic points that when added up one day will result in a piano falling on your head.

  • I have never been more happy about having a penis than I was both times my wife was *extremely* pregnant with our children … not to mention the part where they came out of her vagina.

    Hang in there, Heather. (Like you have a choice, right?)

  • Erin T

    Thank you for the laughter. I needed that today. Very badly.

  • Your vibrant description has made me thankful for adoption and scared to death for the possibility of getting pregnant with IVF. My first two kids came to me with no physical symptoms other than stress.

    But an excuse to waddle–does seem handy.

  • The “just you wait” comments are not nearly as bad (in my opinion) as the “you really ARE big” comments. A pox on all pregnancy-commenters! You are allowed to say “May I go get you a box of chocolate?” and that is ALL!

  • you do realize that i’m going to go back through your entire blog and use it as a pregnancy manual right? and each time i’ll be so happy that someone else has been through it.

    thank you.

  • MoxieCrimefighter

    I’m right there with ya, sister. 22 weeks and feeling it – BIG TIME! I cannot believe I’m just over 50% done. I’ll be the size of a smallish elephant before this bambino pops out!

  • Man, pregnant ladies are the most effective form of birth control EVAR!

  • duck_jb

    “Just wait” equals the same amount of rage to me as “… let you.” did when I was a teenager. No one can tell me to wait as they know better and no one can ‘let’ me do anything. Ugh HATE HATE HATE HATE that line.

  • Ditto on the birth control comment. Ha! How’s Leta doing? Newsletter?

  • Anonymous

    Well, I’m in the middle of my second miscarriage in a row, and I’ve got a different kind of “whose body is this?” feeling going on, but you’ve reminded me of the common experience I’m sharing with thousands of other women, so thank you.

  • Anonymous

    you must look like an adorable tall penguin when you waddle. :o)

  • Katie

    LOL! Seriously, I felt that way more with my second pregnancy than my first as well. But then I also carried both boys in my ribs, so the breathing was very difficult and my God was the heartburn horrible. I never waddled, until they dropped, then I got what everyone was talking about. No, I lived with feet and butts and heads up in my ribs, not on my bladder. Don’t know which is worse.

  • Kristin

    Oh, I can’t believe you didn’t keep it from her. That would have been too funny! (And good blog fodder!) You look great, btw!

  • I have no idea what you are going through ( I’m sorry, I won’t rub it in) but you can do it! Rock out Dooce.

    I believe in you, and I appreciate all of your insights, so that one day I’ll go OOH That’s why…

  • Denise

    If you are already waddling at 20 weeks……well…..just you wait (sorry…couldn’t resist)!

  • nursesarah

    Totally rethinking the whole “I want kids someday” thing…

  • I think that “it’s not your body” feeling gets worse the more babies you have. Pregnancy certainly does a number on a girl, no?

  • Teri

    I can’t believe that you are still working out…by the time I was 20 weeks, I couldn’t have done a squat if my life depended on it. I am much shorter than you and much heavier than you so when I was 20 weeks, I pretty much looked like I had a kickball shoved up my shirt.

  • Heather, you look great! may your workouts get easier and easier. Or, perhaps Laura will get that flu going around and you can take it a bit easier. This baby is going to pop out with an urge to join 24hr fitness.

  • Not that I wasn’t already scared stiff of getting pregnant, but all these blow-by-blow details aren’t helping! I love that you’ve got a sense of humor about it though. I predict myself being very pissy and agitated. You go!

  • NicoleG

    I so feel just this way. 17 weeks and one day.

    It’s my first pregnancy and I am kinda glad I am not alone thinking some of those thoughts.

    It’s just weird.

    AND I know the people at the gym stare at me wondering – hmmm.

  • Oh, and not to be picky, but: It should be “dead wife Elizabeth.”

    Actually, I guess that was to be picky … but, hey, I just saw a segment about Redd Foxx on PBS last night, and who knew that less than 24-hours later, I’d have a relevant reason to put my knew knowledge to use? Speaking of which: did you know his last name really was Sanford? And that he was close friends with Malcom X? Gotta love that PBS, I tell ya.

  • dang! i was reading all these funny happy comments until i got to the miscarriage one. i’d like to defend Heather because i’m pretty sure that was meant to be a mean comment. Heather, I’m a big fan of how you tell it like it is. I’d like to tell “Anonymous” that i’m sorry for her loss but no need for Debby Downing on the rest. sheesh.

  • So Funny. Who doesn’t have that ‘who’s body is this anyway’ from time to time.

    Thanks for the laugh!

  • Marta (Austin Texas)

    Haha! Yeah, it’s been over 18 years since I’ve been pregnant, but the memories have kept me downright chaste since then! I’m glad you’re doing it so I can live vicariously through you!

  • I’m now 2/3 of the way through my second pregnancy. This second one seems to have passed so much more quickly. Though the backaches and the waddling and all that jazz have definitely begun. Sometimes I just want this pregnancy to be over, and other times I’m sad that it’s probably the last time I’ll be pregnant, so I should enjoy it. Because it is so easy to enjoy chronic back-pain and an always full bladder. The “just wait..” comments seem to be much less the second time around. I have always hated that phrase, and hope that I never catch myself saying it.

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t mean to be mean at all. I really do appreciate Heather’s post. It made me feel better.

  • You are hilarious! We have been considering couple bootcamp – aren’t we all cute.

  • Lauren

    As a 24 year old reader of yours, I love and appreciate how you prepare me for what’s ahead with clips and moments and images of your life – both the extreme joys of a loving family and raising children, and the moments of that life that are occasionally soaked in displeasure and chased with a shot of humor. Congratulations on Leta’s sister and hang in there. Just remember through all the discomfort that you are giving Leta the greatest gift she’ll ever receive in her life – at least that’s my opinion as the big sister in a 2 girls and no boys family. The power of the connection between sisters is unparalleled!

  • KT

    From a woman who is only 14ish weeks pregnant and several inches shorter than you…thank you! You look great, so it’s oddly comforting to hear you feel as odd as I do. My first pregnancy I wasn’t in maternity clothes at this stage, but boy am I in them now. I’m already doing the waddle, back grab, moaning/grunting when moving, and totally short of breath just climbing one flight of stairs. So I feel ya!

  • Heather, as someone nearing 39 with absolutely no desire to procreate, I want to thank you for populating the world. Seriously. We need more intelligent people to raise well-behaved children, and since you’re having two, I don’t have to have any.
    I totally owe you.

  • I’ve never been pregnant, but I understand that unsettling feeling where you don’t recognize your own body. When I was recovering from serious illness a year ago I looked at my legs and felt like they belonged to someone else – Amy Winehouse, maybe. My face wasn’t my face. It was the strangest feeling to look in the mirror and barely recognize yourself. All my limbs felt alien and unfamiliar. Looking at them was weird, walking was weird, clothing was weird. It’s all…weird.

  • Oh, shit…I’m going to have a piano fall on my head one day!!! Bummer!!!

  • robyn

    I carried my pregnancy weight in my neck. I had no jawline to speak of.

    Even though you feel sluggish and disoriented, you look amazing!

  • So true about those “just wait” comments…why do people feel the need to say them? Ugh. I don’t know if you were the same way when you were pregnant with Leta, but when I was pregnant with my daughter I couldn’t wait to finally “look” pregnant. I know that happens so much earlier in the second pregnancy, which to me seems cool. However, if it’s not something you want then….JUST WAIT..you’re getting closer to your due date every day! ; )

  • “no need to give me a warning that begins with the detestable phrase, “Just wait…” I can guarantee that every time you use that phrase in conversation with a pregnant woman you are earning cosmic points that when added up one day will result in a piano falling on your head.”

    Hell yes.

  • Jennifer

    A. MEN. about the “just wait…” comment. Good Lord, I’ve never had the urge to strangle someone like I do when I hear that. I’m 22 weeks and I can hardly get out of the car.

  • I’m so glad those days are waaaaaaaaaaay behind me!

    I never had much of a sense of humor when I was preggers, though.

    Might have helped if I had.

  • Oh God. Memories of being 8 months pregnant in the middle of Utah summer are coming back. I think I would be more comfortable if I had a bunch of needles stuck up my ass.
    Hang in there, because you have no other choice.
    Thanks for the laugh.

  • sue

    I’m finding all of this funny. I’m one week ahead of you Heather with my first. I actually don’t think it’s been so bad! But it’s fun to get to gripe about it whenever the mood suits. I’m just glad to be pregnant and holding it! Maybe it makes up for wearing the most ridiculous outfits, just because that shirt and those pants fit! Don’t match? Don’t care!

  • Sara

    UGH I know what you mean about the…well…everything in this post. The boobs! They rival my 25-wk bump. The boob situation is out of control. I feel like my cleavage starts at my chin. I try to make myself feel better by thinking it’ll get better, you’re just pregnant. But oh yeah, they stay that huge throughout the nursing phase. Gah!

    Am I not alone in wanting to punch everyone who says “Just you wait!” to whatever I’m talking about in regards to this pregnancy? My daughter is just over 2, so it’s not like I don’t know how uncomfortable it gets. Just shut up already! I’m carrying all out front with this one (very different than last time), and every time I say anything about this, someone has to say “OoooOOO, just you wait, you’re going to get TONS bigger.” Really? I didn’t know that, considering I birthed a kid 2 years ago!

    And you look great. Your white tummy glows like mine does. Yay for albinos!

  • I’m impressed that you’re still working out! I have a hard enough time getting motivated when I’m not pregnant.

  • I only have one child, but I have heard from several friends that your second pregnancy is worse than your first one just because of the simple fact that you know what is going to happen. I really think that’s why I stuck with one kid. Been there, done that, no thanks.

  • You are a champ for exercising this far into your pregnancy! WOW.

  • Natasha

    I am 24 weeks pregnant and I have no idea how you get to the gym each week?!? Can you please explain? I am exhausted, completely and absolutely wrecked by this pregnancy (its my first) and I waddle a twenty minute walk to work each day and that gets me into bed by about about 7pm. I have a friends party tomorrow and I’m thinking that its a good job that I have the day off so that I can nap in the afternoon and maybe make it until 10!

  • “But this isn’t really [as much] about the way I look as it is about the way I feel…” You’re so right about that being the equalizer for all women. It’s very “disorienting” being pregnant (also a perfect descriptor).

    If it makes you feel any better, and it probably won’t, you really do look fantastic. (I know you’re not fishing for compliments. I can tell you’re not that kind of gal.)

    Signed,
    Survived-Three-Pregnancies-And-Totally-Understands

  • Sara

    Yes…I am 32 weeks pregnant with baby #2 and I so feel ya. My body is no longer my own. This grunting that escapes from me when I walk or roll over in bed or walk up stairs does not come from me. Something else has taken over.

    I’m looking forward to having control over my body again.

  • My last two girls are really close in age and it felt like I was pregnant forever. I call those days The Pod Years. I felt like a baby making pod and nothing belonged to me.

    I think you’re doing great. You’re halfway there!

  • I do enough bitching about getting up at 5am, 4 days a week, to run on a treadmill that’s IN MY HOUSE…. that I can’t even imagine how dedicated you must be to be going to the gym WHILE pregnant.

    My only motivation during pregnancy was to see how many McDonalds cheeseburgers would fit into my mouth at one time.

  • Anu

    You have a way with words that just makes even the most insipid situations sound absolutely hilarious. Good luck with the pregnancy. Since you hate being told “Just wait….” I’ll just say ” Well, you knew what you were getting into ;-)”.