Like all women I know, I’ve always been weight conscious, with varying degrees of success over the years. I’ve never felt happy with my body shape, even when I was verging on underweight a couple of times. Before I was pregnant I truly believed that I would limit my extra calorie intake to the apparent 200 extra calories you need per day (that’s 2 slices of toast, people). I was anxious to stay slim and convinced my usual body-image fretting would not subside.
The first trimester of this pregnancy saw these good (/twisted) intentions fly out of the window. When you’re going to vomit unless you eat something, NOW, and then again two minutes later, and when anything but salt and vinegar crisps smells like the devil’s breath to your crazy pregnant nose… well, you eat the jeffing crisps, don’t you.
During this much more fun, much less insane (goodbye, nausea, I don’t miss you at all!) second trimester, I am still eating more than I normally would- and more than an extra 200 calories a day- but I’m not out of control by any means. The main difference is that I eat without guilt. I eat things I’d normally avoid, like sandwiches- CHEESE ones no less. Party on dudes. I make trips to the bakery especially for a cake. I don’t let myself go hungry, ever. I’m actually horrified at the thought of applying the usual hunger-is-good ethos while pregnant- it just can’t be good for the baby (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).
My overriding feeling- and it’s a thrilling one- is of complete freedom from the usual body identity parade. I can’t be judged on the usual criteria of what is officially attractive. My body is a completely different shape from the acceptable norm. (For god’s sake, my behind- usually the largest part of my body by a long way- now looks positively deflated compared to the various, ballooning lady lumps out front. My bottom, for once, is taking back seat). Whilst I’m pregnant, I’m out of the Fat Race, and it feels wonderful. I’ve realised that women only get complimented on their figures at two times in their lives: when they look thin, and when they are pregnant. I’ve been thin at times, but it’s much easier to be pregnant- backache, cytitis, crazy breastfeeding dreams and all. At the moment I love my slightly comical body shape and don’t have a speck of neuroses over whether I look big in a certain outfit or whether my stomach is sticking out when I sit down (I’d be stuffed if I did).
But I suppose I’m not completely free. The only reason I don’t worry about my shape is because I’m pregnant, so I’m “allowed” to not be thin. It’s the sad truth that once I have given birth (and shovelled down all the foods I’m not allowed to eat while pregannt: smoked salmon, pate, brie…dribble…), I’ll be dieting. Because we’re so trapped in this ridiculous belief- and it is ridiculous, and completely arbitrary, but impossible to rid ourselves off- that thin is best. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should promote the belief that being hugely fat looks nice- it’s obviously healthier to be slim and so, yes, a body that is healthy weight looks more attractive. I don’t think that’s abitrary. But we don’t simply think a healthy weight is more attractive, do we? We think that thinner you are, the better you look. And despite myself, begrudgingly, I sign up to that lie too. I’m intelligent and liberated, but like most women I can’t make myself believe that looking good is simply a matter of being healthy and fit, never mind if your thighs are a little thunderous or your waist-hip ratio unwaspish.
So I’ve no doubt that I’ll be back at war with my waistline once I’m no longer pregnant. But for now, pass me the birthday cake (a not-so-subtle pointer towards the fact that it’s my birthday tomorrow, yippee!) and let me enjoy the ceasefire.
In other, less self-obsessed news: all seems to be well with the Bean. She’s kicking quite a bit now, and it’ the best feeling. And, after many moments spent with baited breath and his hands planted across my belly, G finally felt a kick (two kicks!) last night. In terms of measurements, heartbeat, and overall edibility, the recent scan showed all is well. I love the fact that her thighs are looking like little chubby sausages. (If only I could guarantee that she would always love her own thighs, chubby or not…).