Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

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.

  • This will not make me popular but I am going to admit that seeing my body change through pregnancy has always been mostly a fun crazy adventure for me. I’m not saying it’s been without discomfort and sometimes all-out pain, but I infinitely prefer a nice hard baby belly to the squishy deflated-balloon gut I’m left with when it’s all over.

    In fact, I remember trying on a stretchy, clingy dress just a week or so before I found out I was pg with my second. I was studying my profile and trying to decide if my normal amount of stomach protrusion was ok in this dress. I actually thought, there in the dressing room, “This would look way cuter on me if I was pregnant.

    Six months later, I found out I was right. The dress looked hot on me pregnant, although I really had to watch my suddenly bountiful bosoms to make sure they stayed in. As a flat chested girl, getting some boobies for a few months is kind of like renting a $1,800 Prada bag.

    Maybe that’s why I’m on my third pregnancy. That and I really like eating for two.

  • JM

    This graph pretty much hit the nail on the head for me, although it’s missing the part where random strangers ask you whether you’re “toughening up your nipples” in advance of the baby. Ummm, and I know you how?

    http://graphjam.com/2009/01/29/song-chart-memes-pregnancy/

  • What is with those kind of people? They seem to love to give you the gory details, the gorier (is that even a word?) the better. “Ya, you should’ve seen it. The baby was 15lbs and I was stuck in the elevator with a piece of chewing gum and a bottle of Yoo Hoo. When they finally got the elevator working again it looked someone died in there. Just wait…”

    Been there 4 times…good luck!

  • Lauren

    No matter how much weight you gain, no matter how much you waddle now or in the next few months, you’ll be back to your old self again soon. You just wait! 🙂

  • Bec

    All I can think is: Isn’t it just amazing that we were created to give LIFE! It’s like, shouldn’t that be reserved for invisible, holy, entities?! But yet, we do! Our bodies shift and change and stretch to accomodate and nourish a new human.

    I had 3 sons in 3.5 years and every pregnancy was as different as each child’s personality was different! Yet still the same outcome every time… LIFE!

    I loved the entire process. I should note: I never once got sick and never was swollen like a blimp. I did have great big, firm, boobs and I did waddle…. and I got stretch marks, but I was the most beautiful I have ever been in my life when I was carrying my sons.

    Even still…. with all that being said… I’m sooooo glad it’s YOU and not me!!! Ha!

    Xo
    Bec

  • Anonymous

    Your website is cheering me up in an otherwise not-so-great time! Thank you!

  • I guess this is the first time in my life that I’m glad I’m not thin. I am tall but have always hauled around an extra 20 or so. I was one of the lucky ones, my pregnancy got way better every month. Once I was out of the first trimester blahs, I rocked the 2nd and 3rd. I was waiting for all those “just wait” moments, but they never came.

    What did bother me was all the labor and deliver horror stories. Every woman wanted to tell me of their days of labor, epidurals, breech babies, c-sections. So I like to share my labor story. I was in hard labor for about an hour. I pushed for about 10 minutes (and that was only because the doctor wasn’t there yet). After my daughter literally spurted into this world, I said to my husband, “That was easier than I thought.”

    So my comment to you is — Just wait and it could be easier than you think. And if not, you still get a baby out of the whole deal which makes all the other stuff so worth it. (Oh and you look gorgeous, I’m so jealous!)

  • Lisa

    You’re carrying this baby different because now YOU ARE ALL BROKEN IN!!! It is good that you are working out. You’ll only gain baby weight, have less of a chance for diabetes, have more of a pain tolerance and your recovery will be quicker afterward. I ran into my 4th month with my first and did aerobics up to a week before delivery. With my second I did NOTHING and we both almost died. Seriously. I took that as a wake up call to continue to work out as much as I could. That was 14 years ago. Now I think that my body is a special package, even without a baby in it because my kids still need me.

    Keep up the good work Heather! Jon too!

  • Lizzy

    I know it can be hard… but aren’t those kicks worth it?? I loved feeling those little feet/fists/nunchucks.

  • Now, I might be remembering this wrong, but in Bradley class I seem to remember them saying that pregnant women waddle not because they are fat, but because their pelvic bones actually begin to loosen in preparation of child birth. Cold comfort, I know… but still.

  • Heh. Thanks, now I have no excuse not to exercise.

  • jlp

    “Just wait…” may have been my least favorite thing to hear up until last week when I went to the grocery store and had this conversation:

    Checker: So when are you due?

    Me: March 17.

    Checker: Wait, what? That makes you…

    Me: Just over 7 months.

    Checker: Are you having twins?!

  • Hollie

    Dear Anonymous who is in the middle of a second miscarriage,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. And so sorry someone called you a ‘Debbie Downer’, that was very insensitive.

    I love reading Dooce and what her readers take from it. Thank you for sharing and you’ll be in my thoughts during this difficult time.

  • “Just wait…” Yeah, I hated that one, too. I also couldn’t stand “You may say that now, but…” Give it a rest, other mothers of the world! I was lucky, at least I never felt awkward or uncomfortable when I was pregnant, but that’s only because my midwife practically burned me alive with her eyes anytime she found out I ate cake.

  • Jen

    Being someone who just had her second child 3 months ago, every time I heard (or hear) “just wait…” I curse that person under my breath. I loathe those who feel the need to say something with those words in the sentence.

  • Molly

    I am bookmarking your site right now to come back to whenever I am ready to have kids. All I ever hear re: this process is inane “just you wait” type-stuff, not a voice (yours) that is genuinely curious about your own unique experience of it, and trying to grapple with the right words for this experience, rather than lean on platitudes. “My body doesn’t feel like my own”–isn’t pregnancy just a completely new way of seeing the world? We normally look at it through typically male and able-bodied eyes, where our bodies are completely our own.

  • When my sister was 8 months strangers would tell her she was huge..she was all “oh this? taco bloat.” people would come up and ask her is she was having twins! She’s only 5’1″ so obviously she’s going to look waaay bigger than someone of average height who is preggers!

    You look awesome even if you don’t feel like it! If I could rock pregnancy like you have been I would get knocked up tonight!

  • Cassandra

    Just wondering how many cosmic points that the person who visits you in the hospital after you’ve given birth to that second child gets when they say to you, “You look thinner this time around than you did after your first…”

  • brutal, heather! reading about your pregnancy has been great birth control for me. thanks.

  • I dont remember much about my pregnancies. I am always amazed at those (my age) who remember every detail.

  • lindsayc

    I was never comfortable pregnant. I am shortish and thin, and I looked like I wasn’t pregnant from the back right up until delivery with both boys. I looked like the head of a torpedo by the eight month mark. I love having my boys, but pregnancy was an alien condition that I suffered through. I sure hope you are right about the karmic piano.

  • I need an honest friend like Carol. I’m enjoying your pregnancy updates, Heather. I missed them the first time around with Leta.

  • Unfortunately, I have found that the “just wait” comments don’t stop once you’re no longer pregnant. If I’m frustrated with my two-year-old, well, “just wait until he’s 3 and a half” (or whatever). “Just wait” until you go back to work. “Just wait” until they are teenagers. DAMN people…stop it already!!

  • Best of luck with the pregnancy (and everything that follows)! I’m looking forward to reading all about it.

  • abonsig

    I’m laughing because I had a trainer prior to my pregnancy. When he saw me at the gym in the spring, he took me aside and said, “You know, everyone packs on the pounds in winter, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Come back and we’ll work on getting your waist back, ok?” I had to stifle my laughter since I was 4 or 5 months pregnant at the time. Two months later, clearly showing, I ran into him again. “I’ve been doing tons of crunches, but I just can’t seem to get rid of this belly…”

  • omg it WOULD have been funny if you didn’t tell the trainer you were preggo. The confusion alone would be priceless.

    also: the older I get the less I actually want to procreate. weird.

  • Molly

    I’m scared for you. I mean, I feel this way now….but that’s because I have 11 days left before they put me under the knife and pull this 10 pound baby out of me (doctors have indeed measured and it’s going to be at least 9 if not 10 pounds).

    And yes, just you wait. I had my first child at 27. This is now my 4th and I’m 35….NO NO NO plans on having any others, but I can tell you it does get harder as you get older. The good news, every previously pregnant woman, and currently pregnant woman, is feeling your pain with you. There is a reason you get the question “how are you doing?” with a pained expression on those women’s faces as you get closer…..they know, they feel your pain…the only little glimmer of hope I have is that my pain is (finally) almost over. You’ll get there and then you can tell other women:

    Just you wait.

  • It’s so fun being pregnant at the same time as you – it’s like reading my own thoughts much better written – and since you are a few weeks ahead of me, sometimes it’s like looking into a crystal ball of my immediate future. 🙂

    I am on the short end of the spectrum, i.e. showing a lot (and a lot sooner than I did with my first) but I’m actually losing weight, which is really puzzling to me.

  • Beth

    I can tell you that birth the second time around was much easier…. 10 minutes of pushing versus 2.5 hours for the first! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you have a similar experience. I must say – you look great in your pictures- I know everything is relative, but truly you do. Best Wishes.

  • I love the pill

    I love the pill

    I love the pill

    I’m sorry, miracle schmiracle. I know someday I’ll probably do that, too, and yes, life is a great mystery and motherhood is amazing, blah blah blah. It is still WEIRD that another person grows INSIDE your body. Weird. Weird. Weird.

  • I don’t know if I should jump my husband’s bones asap or start taking two birth control pills every morning. Decisions, decisions.

  • I tell my guy friend he waddles… then he found out his back is all messed from sitting at a computer too long. Ladies are so cute when they waddle (while pregnant)! Maybe it would be easier to just get a wheel chair?

  • Waddling is good. Do it a little faster and it’s considered speed walking, and Laura should approve of that! You look great for half way through your second pg. As long as you steer clear of the ice cream….That’s what did it for me and why 4 years after my 2nd daughter, I’m still able to caress my pg belly!

  • I’d like to know what Daddy Scratches (#1) means by “*extremely* pregnant.” Is that a sport, extreme pregnancy?

  • I am pregnant too (almost 27 weeks) but unlike you, I am short. On a good day I am 5’4″ but during pregnancy I am lucky to hit the 5′ mark. So my waddling starts early, and the pregnancy lasts FOREVER!! Tell me…is it May yet?

  • Kate

    So glad to hear you say this, because it rings so true with me. I’m prenant with my 2nd, so you’d think I’d be comforted as my body changes (read: turns into a beached whale) in knowing that yes, the weight will come off later and things will (mostly) go back to normal. But somehow experience is not helping me here – I still feel weirdly panicked about the fact that my body likes to begin the baby-growing process starting in my butt and thighs. Doesn’t it know that my belly is where that baby’s supposed to be cooking?
    Also, for those of us pregnant ladies out here who can’t *help* but compare ourselves physically to your bump watch pics, thank you, thank you for reminding us that you are (a) very tall, and (b) naturally thin.

  • Now that you are expecting #2, are you stopping your monthly letters to Leta? Or are you going to be writing TWO monthly letters. You are amazing in those, and I miss them, but I cannot imagine trying to summon up two of those every month.

    Speaking of waddling – just point your toes slightly IN and it will help.

  • My stepson and his 19 yr old g/f just had a baby, and I told her all the way through how to feel better during and then, most importantly, after, and she listened to none of what I was saying. Pissed me off, why ask how to feel better then? Oh, yeah, as an excuse to gripe.
    I love how you are doing everything you can to feel good instead of using preganancy as a diagnosis to give up on yourself.
    I really related to what you say about the disorientation, honestly, my second child, my son, is now nine, and that never quite…dissapated. Maybe its because I am almost 40 now, I dunno. The only time I really feel just like myself is when I dance, so I put up a ballet barre, and I dance everyday.
    Heather, thanks for sharing your life with us, for all these years now there are many times when I’m just like, yeah, yeah, exactly! Someone gets it!

  • “Just wait” is the worst. It never stops, either. You complain about being up all night with a newborn and someone says, “Oh, just wait until they’re driving. Try to get some sleep THEN.” Take your “just wait” and shove it, people.

  • Ah yes, the waddle. I always enjoyed when it became more and more obvious that I was pregnant. People are nicer to pregnant women. I’m impressed that you’re doing that tough of a workout. I’d crumble.

  • I’m at 30 weeks with my first and I want to DIE. Have fully embraced the waddle. Am cursing the purchase of our 3-story victorian home (the STAIRS! My God, THE STAIRS!) Can’t breathe or eat more than 5 tablespoons of food at a time. I have no idea how I’m going to survive the next 2 months. THERE IS SIMPLY NO MORE ROOM IN THERE, FETUS!

  • When I was about 15 weeks pregnant with Lauren, I made her dad go buy us one of those scrolly iron headboards. I think they are ugly (I never was into shabby chic), but boy are they handy. Besides hanging a winch over the bed, the iron headboard was the only way I could haul my enormous self off the mattress for one of my multiple middle-of-the-night bathroom trips.

    I don’t recall waddling though. Mostly, I dragged my left leg behind me because my clever daughter found a way to press on my sciatic nerve (where it goes into my spine), so I pretty much lost use and feeling in that leg. My husband called me Quasimodo or Gimpy for most of my pregnancy. Which is one reason why he is now my EX husband.

  • I have just become the legal god mother of a 1 year old and I think it’s a perfect solution to my childless state (not that I’m planning to kill my best friend and her husband) I get all of the good stuff without pushing the 8lb roast out of places that I can’t imagine stretching that far.

  • As a woman who is just entering her 27th week with baby number 4, I totally understand. Except that I am not naturally thin. Other than that, I am in total agreement with feeling like your body is not your own.

  • I’m also 5’10”, was raised in the bible belt, and bear a brand of crazy similar to yours. So reading about your experiences with parenting and pregnancy is both a wonderful inspiration and an ominous warning regarding things to potentially come.

  • Bri

    I am almost 28 weeks along with my second pregnancy, and I am having a HELLATIOUS (is that a word?) time carrying this baby around. My back hurts almost constantly — getting out of bed, getting out of a chair, walking down stairs. I feel like I am twice as huge with this one than my first. I am glad that I am not just a “special case” and unlike some of my pregnant friends am not able to bike, run, swim, do flip flops around with agile and ease. No, I am miserable.

  • Thank you for curing my baby fever that seems to come on every once in awhile. I am good for another few months now. ;o)

  • I agree. It would have been HILARIOUS if you hadn’t told her you were pregnant.

  • Sarah

    I am 20 weeks along with my second and the waddling just started for me, too. He is riding so low i feel like he is just about ready to stick a hand out and wave hello. I wish there was a way I could feel OK with waddling for another 20 weeks, but i haven’t found it yet!

  • Mother Teresa

    “Just wait” is slighty better than the words “Just relax” when spoken to a woman undergoing infertility treatment. Even docs and nurses who should know better about the superhuman powers of a female on fertility drugs spoke those fatal words to me more than once. Is there anything more relaxing than haveing scheduled sex or even worse, getting the specimen cup full of baby batter to a lab for a quick spin in the centrifuge and then to a 20 inch syringe insterted into the highest possible point by the doc who is using a nurse with a flashlight to “assist” him in the maternity triage ward where the volume of fetal monitors, puking, and labor-incuded moans are deafening? That was just insemination #1. Oh ya, I’m relaxed, no problem. I have 3 fabulous kids now (2 adopted and then the surprise pregnancy that everyone also says “you know that happens ALL the time”…grrr) and now no one DARES speak those two words to me.