An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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.

  • You best hope that Laura doesn’t find your blog. You think she’s been tough up until now, huh?!?!?!?!

  • Abby

    feeling like you’re trapped in the movie “Body Snatchers” isn’t ever very comforting, but just wait(I couldn’t resist)-it gets soo much BETTER! I was terrified when I was pregnant with my second, and she has absolutely floored me. It was also quite amazing to me how different they were from the very start. I always thought gender differences were taught-until I had one child of each. The things that are instinctual to one is totally foreign to the other. Having a second child in our lives has only increased the love in our home. I hope you’ll have the same experience we have.

  • Remember what they say in Lamaze, THIS is ONLY TEMPORARY! Like that helps…

    Thanks for sharing on your second journey with this.

  • Hey, at least you’ve got a good excuse for waddling and weight gain. Mine is due to too much beer. Which is due to too many kids.

  • Strangely enough, your post made me miss the feeling of being pregnant. Nothing is better than climbing up 3 steps and being winded! Ha

  • sidelines

    Thank god you’re back! I was a little concerned that a crazy-peptopink-smiley face-syrupy sweetie had kidnapped my favorite straight shootin’ blogster! Dont let the pressure to be the perfect pregant mom dull that edge! Be you!

  • Suzanne

    I understand exactly what you’re talking about! I carried my fourth child between my knees (ok, it felt like it though!)!
    Thanks for the laughs – and I’m glad it’s you (my youngest and LAST is 10)!

  • Con

    I suppose the only thing worse than “just wait” is “it will be over before you know it.” So I won’t say that. Even though it will.

    Ooops. I hear a piano coming, gotta go.

  • Cari

    I can totally understand feeling like your body is not your own – I went through my pregnancy feeling like a walking science experiment. Which is why I’m just fine with the one child, thank you very much!

  • The only time in my life when I’ve felt physically vulnerable was during pregnancy and for a few months afterward, when I was recovering from labor and then breastfeeding and responsible for something completely vulnerable. And I absolutely agree with you about feeling — no, knowing — that my body was no longer my own. Plus I was so fatigued during the whole pregnancy (I was 39) that I kept telling people I’d had a personality transplant.

  • Amanda

    I just found your blog recently and I love it!! You crack me up. Thanks for the laughs…these days that’s the only way I’m burning any calories 😉

  • Oh, Heather, that you are still working out at all makes you a Goddess of Preggerness. I think I took all nine months to lounge about and make others bring offerings to my Royal Couch. The differences of this pregnancy are there to give you fair warning as to the differences of your children. It would be WAY TO EASY if subsequent pregnancies were like strolling down a familiar path. Good luck, I’m glad you’re feeling so much better than last time, and, well…. Just wait….

    Sorry, couldn’t help it. 🙂

  • Stephanie

    You perfectly described how I felt when I was pregnant. Like I was someone else. And people think I’m crazy for not being in any hurry to do it again. Also, I think comments directed at pregnant women should count for double towards that piano. It sucks just as much to be told “you’re so small, are you sure you’re eating?” as it does to hear “whoa! are you sure it isn’t twins?”

  • I know this is no help, but I think you look fantastic for a pregnant woman. But I know the feeling of your own body not being yours.

    A few years ago I had a really bad snowboarding accident that led to me lying on a bed watching Law and Order and eating brownies for about 4 weeks. At the end of that month or so, my body had changed completely, and it was so scary.

    Good luck!

  • Margie S.

    YES! At thirty weeks pregnant I have grown to hate “Just wait…” My very best advice (with the close runner up that pregnancy tests are only $1 at Dollar General and work just as well) is that the thing you say to a pregnant woman if you must comment on her appearance, no matter what is just dying to come out of your mouth, is always, “You look fantastic!” Or something VERY similar. With real enthusiasm! No other comments allowed!

    By the way, did I mention that you look fantastic?!

  • Gyms should have trainers who specialize in pregnancy! Can I post a picture of you working out on my blog? (For reals. You can be right next to the Catriona Matthew, the golfer who won the LPGA Brazil Cup *five months preggo*.)

  • Here’s a workout for you…P90X. I’m doing it right now (month 2) and I equally abhor and love it. I love how strong I’m getting.
    But this isn’t a pregnancy workout. This is Navy Seal, Marine Corps workout. If you are a masochist you will probably enjoy it.

  • Amy

    Could have used the humor and good nature in this post last night while sleeping on the couch, trying to wedge a pillow under my (recently much expanded) 25-week belly in an attempt to alleviate the MOST AWFUL PAIN in my side. A dull, rhythmic throbbing that made it impossible to sleep. That pillow, btw, was in addition to the one under my head and the other between my knees.

    I took to attempting to fart instead. Got a couple good ones out, but they didn’t help at all.

    To all of those never-been-pregnants reading, I think the one thing that’s missing here but is obvious to many of us is that this is all completely worth it. I’m slender and worried about the changes—feeling “fat” etc.— and low and behold I love every inch I grow and change, am thrilled to finally “look pregnant” and know it’s all awesome because it’s for a little guy I’ve never even met but adore completely. Don’t let this be birth control—I don’t think that’s how it’s meant—instead snicker for all of us waddlers and look forward to the day it’s your turn. I hope you love it as much as many of us do!

  • Anonymous

    I was about 6 months along with mine that Thanksgiving…we went for the customary walk after lunch, and my dad mentioned I was waddling. (8 lbs, 9 oz of baby, this one — and I carried him far forward, so I was ALL belly, from my nose to my ankles. And boobs. 40G, yay me) I tried to straighten up and walk, when he patted my back and said “it’s okay — if you don’t waddle, you’ll fall on your ass.”

    Uh, thanks, Dad.

  • I’ll be 9 weeks tomorrow with a baby that is both our first and a surprise (though still eagerly anticipated). My husband, usually the resistor when it’s condom time (surprise, surprise), vowed to devote himself to birth-controlled sex once this one arrives. It already feels like my body has abandoned me in the interest of doting on Baby. C’mon, body, I’ve taken care of you for over 25 years! Don’t leave me like this! It can’t be good for the baby for me to be regretting my entire existence while vomiting cheerios, can it? Right?

    As if I need anyone to tell me to “just wait.” My gosh, I have eyes. I do know other women who have given birth. I’ve seen the pregnant ladies with bellies out to there waddling down the street. Duh. I’m trying not to think about that right now, thanks.

  • Mary

    Lady, I don’t know how you do it! I’m almost done with my first trimester (first baby) and, although I was an avid exerciser pre-pregnancy, I don’t have the energy after work to do a damn thing right now! I go home and collapse onto the couch and am in bed by 9:00 every night! I haven’t run in a month and, although I used to teach Spinning, I had the gym take me off the schedule for a few more weeks. I’ve been promised that in a couple weeks I’ll feel better. Oh, how I can’t wait for this part to be over. I want my energy back!

  • Sex with a watermelon, eh? That sounds difficult. And MAN would that baby look weird. I recommend a Photoshop session of watermelon+Dooce to illustrate.

    (PS: I think your spam filter is trying to tell us something: “New Maddox.” As in, your watermelon baby would be more popular than Angelina Jolie’s first-adopted!)

  • oh, dooce. i so enjoy your writing. i especially enjoy it now, as i’m 23+ weeks along and also rockin’ the waddle. The just wait’s, the gratuitous belly grabs, not to mention my husband recently thinking it charming (!??) to refer to me as Tubby have, at the very least, provided the angry jolts i’ve needed to motivate this not-quite-my-body over the gym.

  • Deb

    –>I felt like I had an alien inside of me when he’d start kicking. Is Baby #2 kicking you yet?

  • so, we celebrated my daughters 4th birthday with a princess party (go figure), and as one of my friends approached our front door she said, “oh, i haven’t seen you in so long…. you’re HUGE!” wtf? HUGE? you should never say those words to a pregnant woman, much less someone you would call a “friend” and i still have 6 weeks…
    anyway, you go girl with the exercising. did that the first time around, not so much this 2nd time.

  • Bea

    is it right to be jealous of a pregnant lady? not for her pregnancy (although, yes please can I have one that sticks?) but for her lovely long ‘noodly appendages’ that look even more lovely for 17lbs?

  • Anonymous

    At 30 weeks pregnant myself for the first time, you pretty much summed up what I have been trying to explain to friends for weeks. I can’t walk right, I lean to the side whenever I sit because he usually has a foot in one side of my ribs, my thighs are starting to rub together. I am also 5’10 and pretty thin so this has been insane for me.

  • Tracy

    With my first pregnancy I was put on bedrest two-thirds of the way through and my bouncing baby boy was born 3 weeks early. So, throughout that “extremely pregnant” part of the pregnancy, I had dr.’s orders to do nothing, go nowhere, etc. I felt big and sluggish but I had NO IDEA. My second pregnancy was typical to the letter and I worked right up until the day my water broke. I remember, at the end, thinking, “oh my God, I cannot believe women do this with every pregnancy and keep having more babies!” If I’d have had to go through all that uncomfortable, heavy awkwardness the first time, I wonder if there would have been a second…. (Well, sure there would have been!)

  • Love the murderous plotting against your trainer…classic!!

  • Amen to the “Just wait …” comment. The worst thing to say to a hormonal pregnant lady.

    Just wait until I mow you over with my thunder thighs.

  • Anonymous

    Oh stop your whining! You have a brand new human being inside you. How cool is that??????

  • Wow. That’s EXACTLY how I feel.

    …Except instead of being pregnant, I’m being full of Indian food.

    “Is it a boy or a girl?”

    “Uh…it’s Curry.”

  • Rachel

    I heard a theory once- When the baby’s soul takes up room (and board) in the mother’s body, there’s not as much room for the woman’s spirit anymore. So her spirit gets pushed out a little. This is supposed to explain the sensitivity, and out of body-ness that women experience in pregnancy.

    Carrying around another little soul inside you…sigh.

  • Anonymous

    you’re going to have a boy

  • Lots of pianos are about to fall among (on) my “advisers.”

    Good doG how I wanted a little more breath today, walking the dog, on flats, across from the zoo near the U. Just you wait …another 16 weeks and you’ll be right there 😉

  • Anonymous

    I am 26 weeks pregnant and proud that I have only gained 22 lbs. This past weekend I was at a family wedding with many folks there that I had not seen since Christmas. The most common statement I heard was, “Wow! You sure have gotten a lot bigger since Christmas. Do you feel alright?” I am lucky that I am 5’10”. Sure, I carry the weight better, but it also made it easier to spit in the faces of those annoying relatives that think it is cute to point out the obvious.

  • Amy

    Bigger biceps are showing! Way to work out!

  • That tall penguin comment was funny!

    The ‘just wait’ thing seems to have struck a chord, right? It just sounds so smug and dismissive. I’ve been hearing it a lot lately with respect to my 3-year-old boy. My response (in the vacuum of my mind) is not socially acceptable.

    Good luck with your back – perhaps it will add an even greater element to the post-partum glow of “being done with this pregnancy shite.”

  • The sweetest thing anyone said to me when I was expecting my twins was a lady doing my pedicure, she said, “It’s ok, these aren’t really YOUR feet right now, they’re the babies feet.” And I just smiled, and thought that to myself every time I looked down to see my humongous swollen ankles.

  • Soph

    Throughout my one and only pregnancy I referred to the experience as “the alien invasion”. My childless friends thought that I was suffering from some sort of during-natal depression because I wasn’t all “I’m so in love with my child…” But it truly was uncanny how my body ceased to be my own even though I was still resident

  • just wait …

  • Dear Anonymous & Hollie,
    I am really sorry, Hollie was totally right. I completely misinterpreted the comment. Guess I’m still young and stupid. I was just reading one of the archived posts about one when one of Heathers readers was bashing her incessantly and i guess i just associated the two. I shouldn’t have said that, and I apologize sincerely.

  • nothing like pregnancy to teach you to revere (and at times, fear) the capabilities of the human body!

    there were times during my pregnancies that i could have really used some training wheels though…

  • just wait….
    there’s a beautiful baby girl on the other side.

  • Christina

    As someone who is in the wonderful postpartum phase after having number 2, I am completely hearing your pain right now. The worst thing about the second is that you know what’s coming in that “aww not this shit again” sense.

    Your post absolutely described how I felt this go around too. Right there with you. There is a special place for the “just wait..,” “wow! you’re HUGE!,” and “let me tell you…” folks. URG!

    I looked about the same at 20 weeks as you do…just with more stretch marks. I struggled to get out of bed, up stairs, off the couch, etc. 😉

  • Joan Halteman

    As a 6’2″ 21 week pregnant woman, AMEN to all that you said in this post.

    You Rock…

  • I’m pregnant right now for the first time, 18 weeks in myself, and I have to admit that it’s taken much more out of me than I expected. I’m still playing a big part of running my husband’s business so I’m having to deal with the usual workload plus all of the emotional and physical stress the baby is causing me.

    I have nothing but total empathy… 🙂

  • Is it so sad that I was actually thinking to myself the other day, “I wonder if Dooce exercises? I know she’s naturally skinny but that’s just annoying if she doesn’t exercise.” I hate celeb magazines and E! and knowing too much about people I don’t know, but for some reason I allow myself to think about whether or not you exercise. For this I hate myself, and love you.

  • You’re brave to work with a trainer…I train on my own which means I push myself but only so hard. I know, I could go faster, be stronger, but who needs that kind of pain?

  • Kerry

    Heather, I’ve loved reading your pregnancy tales this time around. I’m currently 13 weeks pregnant with our first child, and I feel like every morning I wake up in someone else’s body. It’s been so reassuring to read about what you’re going through, especially when it seems like every single person I know has an opinion about what my pregnancy will be like. I come here to read about pregnancy because it’s my “safe place,” you would never tell me I’m going to look like a beached whale (thanks, father-in-law) or tell me that I must absolutely get rid of my dogs (thanks, um, everybody else).

    Don’t ever let anyone give you crap for writing about your pregnancy or your kids, people like me need to read it so there’s a little more to be happy about in the world!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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