Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dressing Myself

We're attending a bat mitzvah this weekend. It's a bat mitzvah, but apart from the religious significance, more like a wedding without the groom - a ceremony flanked by a dinner the night before, a party at the country club on the evening of the ceremony, and a brunch the morning after. I have nothing to wear to any of these events.

Until this past weekend when a couple of my girlfriends brought me bags of their old maternity clothes, I had two maternity pants and a couple of loose tops. Between those and my baggy pants, I've managed to get by, especially since I'm not going into an office these days. For more formal occasions, I had a dress and a jacket that I had from my chubbier days, which I thought worked well until my mom saw me last week and commented that I looked rather dated in them. Suddenly, I realized she was right.

I've gained about nine pounds so far with this pregnancy. Given that I'm in week 18, I think that's pretty reasonable. But that's not counting the 20 pounds that I gained with my prior pregnancies and failed to shed after my miscarriages despite my regular visits to the gym.

None of these pounds has come gracefully. I look at women who expand only around their waists while skipping down the street in their skinny legs and high heels, and I wonder why I wasn't born to be one of those creatures. Instead, I'm large everywhere. My face has expanded, my arms, fingers, thighs, butt. I look at photos of myself when Jeff and I got married a year and a half ago, and I miss that body.

Viewing myself in a full length mirror at the department store is not a happy experience. I went to Macy's a few weeks ago to try to find something decent to wear, and I was mortified to find nothing fitting the way they used to -- or even anywhere close. When I found myself reaching for an extra large, I felt compelled to hide the size tag.

I never enjoyed looking at myself in the mirror. Throughout most of my teens and 20s, I remember looking at myself and wondering why any boy would want to date me. I didn't feel comfortable in my skin until my late 20s. I think a part of it has to do with having developed very quickly at a young age. In grade school, I was often the tallest kid in my class, although I leveled out at 5' 6". When I was in first and second grades in Korea, my teachers paired us up after lining us in height order. I was often the odd girl out, trailing at the end. My mom remembers me running home crying that I didn't have a partner.

I tell myself that it's only for another five months -- and that I have many more inches to expand until this little guy shows up. That I shouldn't even think about this until late October. And I'd be willing to gain a hundred pounds if it ensured his safe arrival. But I have to learn to stop treating my pregnancy as a weight gain -- and hiding my belly as if it were excess fat. If anyone has any magic tricks for dealing with that, I'd love to hear some ideas.

This morning, Jeff suggested that I sign up for a pre-natal yoga class. I suddenly realized the brilliance of that idea. Not only will I be getting some much needed exercise, I am bound to surround myself with women with body shapes like mine. Maybe I will see the physical glory of this experience more clearly in their bodies than I see in mine.


  1. Congrats again on your pregnancy! And I have to say that you are very brave to be so honest about your body-issues, specifically b/c you have gone through losses. It is very clear to me, at least, that you are very grateful to be pregnant, even though you are finding your new body rather difficult to accept.

    Again, I am much like you in that I went through two m/c last year. Gained over ten pounds as a result of them. And never shed that weight. I am also now pregnant, and thankful to be pregnant, but finding it hard to deal with the weight issue. Much like you, I was always a perfect weight, and then, over the past 1.5 years, I find myself being a "chubby" little lady!

    My obgyn suggested that I try to gain no more than 15 - 20 lbs . . . Not easy.

    I think pregnancy yoga is a great place to start. There are a couple places that offer it, one being Yoga Tree. Other women that I have spoken to have suggested going for a walk every day. In addition, there is the option of going for swims at the new Sava pool on Sloat. The morning hours should be good. Check out their website.

    All the best to you, and congrats again.

    p.s. Whole different topic, I know. But - if I may ask - were you somewhat suprized or happy to learn that your little one was a boy? I had never considered it until this pregnancy, at which time I learned that I would have two children of the same sex. There won't be a third one for us. So I'll never know what it would be like to have a child of the opposite sex.

  2. A lot of my friends swear that pre-natal yoga classes were one of the best ways they kept sane during the pregnancy and actually made the process of giving birth easier vis a vis pregnancies they had where they didn't do yoga. They say the breathing and stretching help!

  3. I read this as if it were something I've written myself about me. I'm an ABJ (American Born Japanese)... I grew up surrounded by petite japanese girls and stuck out like an ugly duckling at 5'-7". Had I been a "skinny" 5-7 would've been fine, but I was not. I learned to just accept it, but still wonder what it'd be like to be back at my 2005 "wedding" weight. 2 kids and about 20 pounds of unwanted weight is very difficult. People tell me that I don't look overweight, but looking at my naked body in the mirror makes me cringe. I even hide from my husband when I change into my nightgown (T-shirt and sweats). I do deem myself active, but I certainly don't exercise "regularly". With 2 small children doing anything "regular" is just not attainable. I do know that if I exercise the pounds and rolls will come off quickly because, along with not having time to exercise, I don't have time to eat... Lack of motivation, I guess. Enjoy your pregnancy because once the baby is born you won't have time to eat (or sleep)... and your baby will make for great resistance training... I may weight 20 pounds more than I did when I got married, but I'm still a size 10 and am happy with it.. for now.

  4. Have you visited ? There's a lot of women discussing the issues of body acceptance in and around pregnancy, as well as beautiful, real pictures.

    Good luck to you. I think you should be nearing the "pop" turning point of your baby belly. My friends tell me that it gets a little easier at that point - when you look obviously pregnant. Hang in there!

  5. I gained some marriage weght then gained 30 lbs as a pre gestational diabetic. I basically had to stop drinking juice, sodas completely and avoid dairy in morning. i snacked a lot but at the serving size or less. Ate fruit. walked the dogs a lot.

  6. Any day now you will feel that magical flutter. Worrying about your weight is not leaving your mind free to float and enjoy the wonderous daily highs of being pregnant. Your body is now making/building a baby and you have become united with all those who have come before you and will come after you in this amazing venture.
    It is another wake up to no longer having total control of our lives. All the rules of healthy eating , exercising, relaxing and sleeping as well as you can will benefit the baby’s and your health.. Your shape will change, but a shape will come back eventually. It may not be the one you want but that ideal should become less important to you. Your rounding body is all for a cause. The shape you will have immediately after the birth is not a pretty picture either and it can be a surprise, but the bundle in your arms or at your breast is all that matters.
    You are and will be a beautiful picture. When you are loved so much by others how can you not respect their ability to look beyond the superficial and join them in loving yourself.
    Go out and buy a couple of softly flowing Earth Goddess kaftans in stunning fabrics , or have them made, and dance through the festivities.

  7. Get some true maternity clothes - not size L regular clothes. It helps to have clothes that fit your new shape and show the belly (which will probably "pop" soon too) and then you don't feel chubby, but rather pregnant. They are usually more flattering as well! I really liked the Liz Lange maternity line at Target - for basics that were affordable.

  8. Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments & insights!

    Anonymous at 11:36 -- as for having a boy, I'll be grateful if the baby's healthy, whatever the gender. For some reason, I had imagined the baby as a little girl, but now, I keep imagining him as a little Jeff and that bring a big smile to my face. If we're lucky to have a second and it turns out to be another boy, though, I would love to try for a third and see if we can also have a little girl in our lives. But we'll see. Don't want to get too greedy just yet!

    Elizabeth, thanks so much for the link! I'll be spending some time there.

  9. Call Macy's in Union Square. Ask for Regina. She is a personal shopper there. The service is free. She is so good at finding clothes that will fit whatever size you are, and in a way that doesn't make you feel badly at ALL. I'll go with you if you'd like.

  10. I mean this in the nicest possible way (as someone who normally enjoys your blog), but I found this post to be a little distasteful. One would think that you, after having experienced the pain of losing pregnancies multiple times and desperately wanting a child but not being able to have one, would now upon being successfully pregnant, not care at all about something as superficial as weight gain. Sheesh! You are successfully pregnant! Something you have written extensively about longing for. And then you write a post about being annoyed with the weight gain? One would think you'd be overjoyed with ANY symptom that is a definitive statement that you are indeed pregnant this time. I guess some women just aren't happy unless they are complaining about something, anything.

    I like your writings, but I have little sympathy for you on this one. You want a baby...this goes with the territory. Mother Nature must be reeling from the ungratefulness.

  11. Hi, Anonymous at 5:21,

    All I can say is that if you experienced a pregnancy without any insecurity about the weight gain, you are a much bigger person than I am.

    I'm not asking for sympathy -- just trying to be honest about the experience. That's the only reason I'm blogging. If you feel that this amounts to only "complaining about something, anything," well, there are many, many other blogs to read...

  12. Anonymous 5:21:

    So a woman who has had miscarriages has lost rights to express certain feelings? Or just express them to you? Can you even hear me as you seemed to be perched pretty high up there on your horse?


  13. To Anonymous @ 5:21 -

    I find your comment distateful. Are you saying that someone who has been unlucky enough to experience the devastating blows of miscarriage should just remain giddy and happy about everything else in her life? You can be extremely happy to be pregnant, but torn about the weight gain, the gender preference, and a host of other things. The blogger is being honest - something that has its costs, I suppose.

    (By the way, Shinyung, try Gap-online for maternity clothes. Reasonably priced, stylish, and fairly durable.)

  14. I think that as long as you eat healthily (relatively) you don't need to worry about your weight gain. I gained 30 lbs with each kid and lost it all within a few months. It doesn't matter, in my opinion.
    As for dressing "pregnant" instead of fat-- I started to wear form-fitting shorts that accentuated my belly. It made me feel like my belly was something to rejoice in, not hide.

  15. I feel like women cannot avoid having body image issues. It really sucks but I don't care how confident you are, every woman in developed countries has something that they would change about their bodies if they could.
    As much as we understand the need and the beauty of gaining weight to grow a baby inside us, it's hard to look into a mirror and not see a "fat" person--especially in the early stages of pregnancy.
    So I totally understand what you are feeling. I put up pictures of my husband and me pre-kids around the house so people could see how good looking we used to be! =) But now I just look at the photos wistfully and muffle my cries as long for the good old days when I didn't have to tuck my stomach into my pants before I sat down.