October 31, 2012

Week by week: 35 (in costume)

35 weeks

Quick post this week... so behind right now. So much to do. Feeling harried and having more and more birth dreams that make me nervous she's going to arrive early. The indigestion and heartburn are omnipresent and my belly button feels really ready to pop even though it has yet to (knock on wood).

I feel like the fetus has no more room to move so her movements often... hurt. My back certainly hurts when I first get up to walk from a seated position.

I drafted my birth plan this week and need to pick up a few items for my hospital bag before I can feel ready to pack for that. I also need to spend some time organizing the nursery. Chris needs to assemble the crib but he's busy too.

Before I do anything else, I need to finish my conference paper because even though I am not attending my field's national conference (not allowed to fly at this point), the panel chair offered to present a summary on my behalf.

October 28, 2012

Pickles and Ice Cream: On Cravings


One question that I've been asked a lot has been with regard to food cravings. The stereotype of the hungry pregnant woman wanting odd or extreme combinations of flavors in large quantities is one that permeates our entertainment media. And when I reflect on my pregnancy thus far, it has had  moments of ringing very true.

Early on, one of the first things I wanted was broccoli rapini, grilled with garlic and lots of lemon. Chris was happy to oblige and we ate it as a side dish with many of our April dinners. Thankfully, the Italian market always keeps some on hand. I also wanted milkshakes. All the milkshakes in the land, ideally with some salty and sweet combination of flavors. Chris concocted an incredible Speculoos-themed one that I still daydream about.

In the first trimester, sometimes eating left me with a metallic taste that was unpleasant so I found myself gravitating toward lots of vinegar and citrus to neutralize or supersede that. And when I say citrus, I don't just mean oranges. Both pre- and during pregnancy, I have eaten my fair share of halved lemons and limes. I am a big fan of garnishes as snacks. Raw green peppers have also been very appealing to me, throughout this pregnancy. Salads with lots of vinegar and a tiny bit of oil hit the spot.

Cilantro. Basil. Ripe (in season) tomatoes. Aged balsamic. Watermelon.

Hummus. Eggplant. Kale. Dry Ricotta and other salty, hard cheeses.

My mom's chicken and dumplings (which I always crave anyway).

All of the above, please!

When berries came into season, I couldn't get enough of them (especially blueberries and black raspberries). Currently, I feel that way about apples (specifically winesaps). Also, I have been intensely craving ripe pomegranates and keep buying them before they're ripe, just in case I luck out and get one that is ready early.

Thus far this list makes me look like the healthiest fruit and veggie fiend on the planet. It's both misleading and incomplete! I love desserts and sweet treats. I was so excited to see the spread of cake and cookies at my showers. Although I adore chocolate, that craving has taken a back seat to my desire for cannolis, almond flavored cake, thumbprints, and pizzelles.

The other interesting thing about my cravings is an intense desire for all the pre-packaged foods I enjoyed as a child (when I could convince my mom to buy them, that is). I had a week late in my second trimester when I was DYING for an iced cherry pop tart. Although (other than ice cream) I tend to avoid the freezer section of my grocer, I've craved those cheap and sodium-rich party pizzas and Stouffers frozen vegetable lasagna that were meals my friends and I would make ourselves as adolescents, after school. I haven't indulged that urge because I fear the heartburn havoc that would surely result. But I've yearned for them, inexplicably.

Oreos. Goldfish Crackers. Laffy Taffy. BBQ chips. Plain Cheerios. Toaster waffles. All of these foods have given me pangs of want. I've avoided many of them by just avoiding their sections in the stores but I did cave on a few.

Orange juice and grapefruit juice, specifically tart or sour versions without any added sugar taste AMAZING to me and have since the beginning. I think in general, my senses are heightened so smell and taste are both better when something is good and worse when something is bad.

Lately, I've wanted curries, stews, cinnamon, and whoopie pies/gobs. But to be honest, none of these desires are out of the ordinary for me during the fall.

Oh and there's also pickles.  Chris makes my favorite ones. When we didn't have them on hand (because cucumbers weren't in season at the farmer's market until mid-summer), I tried a few store brands and was left craving his even more so than before.

That reminds me that I need to acknowledge my incredible good fortune, to have a partner who is such an avid lover of foods and home cooking. Although I try my best to contribute to our meal planning and executions, Chris's talents far exceed my own. And he has kept us both incredibly well fed during these months of random food wants. He's my favorite.

I'll be back with 35 week belly shots tomorrow or the next day!

October 23, 2012

Week by Week 34

34 weeks!

My belly button is still in (but barely). My stomach is constantly slathered in some sort of lotion, hoping to avoid stretch marks but not feeling optimistic. Sleeping has become more challenging with each day due to various aches and pains. Once I do sleep, I apparently snore (sorry Chris!). I bought a bra extender thingy from Target this week which helps make things more comfortable without my needing to buy non-nursing in between bras (since I don't know what size nursing bras I will need). I am looking into a belly binder for after birth cause I really would like to hold everything in place and encourage things to go back to "normal." I've been using my Target BE Band (generic Bella Band) as a belly support device cause it feels so strained.

We've finally begun getting the nursery ready although it is still very far from organized. We managed to get furniture out of there and now it is full of the embarrassment of riches from baby shower gifts (still in boxes/new with tags/unwashed and not ready). I also have to clean out the armoire that is going to be baby's closet/storage. So much to do and so little time!

I did manage to wrap the article manuscript I wanted to send off to be considered for publication so that my resume remains active. I have a conference paper to wrap up (even though I can't physically attend the conference because I won't be allowed to fly by then) and more writing and diss. revision. Not to mention finishing my semester with my students. I hope the fetus remembers the bargain we made about how she needs to keep cooking until at least the day after her due date!

Lots more to talk about in terms of symptoms, cravings, and the amazingly overwhelming and wonderful experience that is being surrounded by all the women who I love and who have known me my whole life (aka my baby showers). I'll try to be back later in the week but my priorities are such that my recreational writing time is dedicated to the zillion more thank you notes I have to write (which I really enjoy doing even though they take a great deal of time because I toil over how to express my gratitude in a way that doesn't sound canned or insincere).

Outfit details:
Bailey 44 top from Nordstrom Rack (non-maternity)
Gap "Always Skinny" Maternity Cords in green
Captoe flats with extra footbed cushion from Payless

October 14, 2012

Week by week: 33

33 weeks

This weekend I had the first of my baby showers and I feel so overwhelmed with love and support. It was a beautiful time being surrounded by wise women and girls of all ages. My dear friend China even came into town to attend. I was so so happy to see her and hug her and catch up. I am left yet again feeling really lucky in general.

Physically, things are good overall but my stomach is very... strained. My heartburn is very pervasive. My back occasionally hurts. I am told all of this is normal. My midwife appointments are now every two weeks and last Thursday's check up was reassuring. Measuring on track, strong fetal heartbeat, etc. I have begun wondering if my face looks different. I kind of see differences when I look at pre- and during-pregnancy photos but I wonder if that is due to weight or something else? There's that terrible, misogynistic old wives tale about how fetal girls "steal your beauty" and as absurd as I know that sounds, I have to wonder if pregnancy does change the shape and composition of a face? Especially since so many other parts of the body change, beyond just the belly. I also realize the changes I see in my face likely relate to being tired and taking less careful time to take outfit photos.

Some days I also feel really frustrated by what I see on the scale. I know that the gains I've made in the last 33 weeks are all for good reason but it can be difficult not to think negatively about that aspect of pregnancy. After all, I inhabit a weight-obsessed culture! Despite that, my body image is usually pretty positive and unconnected with weight. I don't typically dwell on the numbers on tags or scales. I need to harness that approach again while acknowledging that I'm doing the best that I can to eat well and to avoid being entirely sedentary.

Anyway, I can't believe how time has flown by. I have so much to do! I hope the fetus keeps cooking as planned because I need every minute of time to work and prepare.

Outfit Details:
Three Seasons Maternity dress from Amazon (unfortunately this seems to no longer be half off like it was when I bought it)
Gap tights (pulled low cause they're not maternity)
Nine West pumps

October 7, 2012

Week by Week: 32

32 Weeks

I'm getting bigger every day. My stomach skin aches because it is so strained. I've been dutifully lathering myself with cocoa butter and jojoba oil, hoping to stave off the inevitable. I don't yet have marks but I envision them in my future. As I feel the fetus wiggle around, I imagine that she's trying to make even more room. It's hard to fathom my stomach growing larger but I know it must. And I know it will be worth it.

It's fun to compare the above with my first belly photos on this blog (which were taken at around 15 weeks) cause I was wearing the same top.

Pants with real buttons! I remember you. 

32 week outfit Details:
Orla Kiely for Uniqlo sailboat tshirt
Gap Maternity Cords 
Payless captoe flats (which have extra cushy padding and are sooooo comfy!! Thanks mom, for treating me to some larger interim footwear!!)

October 6, 2012

Nordstrom Maternity is back!

At least on their website, Nordstrom has begun stocking maternity clothing again. This is great news for fans of their price match policy, stellar return time frame, and excellent customer service! Above are some of my favorites currently in stock. Of course, the prices are a bit high. After all, it IS Nordstrom. But they have sales just like everyone else and the dresses they've chosen to stock would at the very least make lovely baby shower/special occasion dresses if you're feeling eager to splurge on one special garment.

October 3, 2012

The pregnant body image

Pregnancy is a liminal space of in-between. The life changes resultant from pregnancy are often described as "to be." And the language of pregnancy is often anticipatory and futuristic. Weekly emails describe my "baby" as though it exists autonomously and independent from me. And in a lot of ways, I feel abstracted from the process of its development. Instead I feel as though I must relinquish control to instinct and biology. My maternal body is doing its thing without conscious effort on my part (beyond some minor behavioral changes). So on some level, projecting "personhood" is to be expected, despite my own discomfort with such a notion.

The  rhetoric of personhood has led directly and indirectly to the erosion of women's reproductive rights in states around the country. So as a feminist, I feel reluctant especially to lend it credence. From an academic perspective it is interesting to notice how the descriptions of pregnancy's effects on the maternal body/person are near the end of the email, secondary and removed from the fetus rather than integrated across its narratives of development. In the discourse of pregnancy, these changes are framed as "side" effects, rather than simply "effects."

Recently, I revisited Emily Martin's canonical feminist text, The Woman in the Body: A Cultural Analysis of Reproduction and was reminded of the complicated history of (Western) medicine when it comes to treating women's bodies. In some ways, this history permeates how we understand and discuss pregnancy in broader American culture. And I've been trying to put that into context with my own experience of being pregnant.

So much of the discourse of pregnancy is futuristic and rooted in anticipating changes that are beyond one's control, but my pregnant body and mind inhabit the present. The pregnant body does remarkable things to foster and maintain a hospitable environment in which a fetus can develop (and an embryo and blastocyst, before that). The process is incredibly integrated and surprisingly efficient. I'm already grateful for the visceral and intellectual educations of this experience.

But at times it has been challenging to surrender those comforting feelings of control and put my trust in what is physiologically intuitive. Some days I feel alienated from an increasingly unfamiliar and occasionally uncomfortable, pained body. Related, I no longer enjoy the same amount of control in announcing my pregnancy to the outside world. My body speaks for me. And with the social and moral panic over pregnant bodies (i.e. so many opportunities to be policed and judged), it can also be incredibly disempowering to feel subordinate to what is an undeniably miraculous physiological process.

When you're experiencing so much change as you inhabit what was once a familiar body it can be tough to make sense of all the new normals. Of course, I am so thrilled to be pregnant and still find a great deal of novelty in feeling fetal movement which makes me even more excited and anticipatory. But this experience hasn't been without its own body image issues and transition pains.