Justine Lorelle

Doctor's orders.

Doctor’s orders.

You know how sometimes the anticipation of something is better than actually experience said thing? Or perhaps you’re familiar with the phrase, “The grass is always greener on the other side”?

I’m experiencing a serious case of that.

I feel like a bit of a punk for even complaining about this because…well, you’ll see, but we so rarely experience something we’ve never experienced before, it seems a shame not to discuss. Plus, the blog needs some more fodder, ya know?

It’s like this: I’m currently almost 33 weeks pregnant, but apparently my belly is measuring a couple weeks behind that. Everything appears to be totally fine with the bub (heartbeat is strong, she’s as active a little monkey as ever), but my midwife would like me to start gaining more weight more quickly. To the tune of 15 pounds in the next six weeks.

To be fair, it’s fine if I’m closer to ten pounds heavier. They just ask you to shoot for a 30-pound weight gain if you are a healthy weight prior to getting pregnant.

But STILL. That’s a lot. And the main advice I was given was that I needed to eat more.

And here’s where the punk part comes in. Because, you guys? It’s hard.

Yes, I have officially become one of those people who complains about how hard it is to lose weight. I LITERALLY never thought I would see the day. Because…because I’m me, and in my regular life, it is not that hard to gain weight.

So I’m obnoxious. But you guys.

Because it’s not like I am trying to not gain weight. I really am! Ever since they gave me essentially the same advice at my last appointment three weeks ago, I’ve been trying to eat more. One problem is that I’m just not that hungry. It’s so hot out. And the other is that I have a I-swear-she’s-bigger-than-it-looks baby taking up ALL the belly room that my stomach would normally expand into, so I get full after about four bites.

I know, I know. I’m annoyed with me too.

I explained all this to the midwife, who smiled kindly at me and told me that I have to eat every two hours anyway. So now I’m trying to psych myself up every couple of hours to eat something with protein in it, even if I’m not in the least bit hungry.

It’s weird, to say the least.

My new plan is to just eat a lot of ice cream and peanut butter. High calorie and protein/calcium-rich — everyone wins! (And my midwife actually did tell me to eat ice cream every day if I want to, so it’s medically sound!)

Any other mommas have a similar experience? Any tips for fitting more protein and calories into my every day? Am I truly the most obnoxious person ever? (Yes.)

Elegant! Sophisticated! And probably totally constipated.

Elegant! Sophisticated! And probably totally constipated.

I keep going to write a post for the blog, then realizing that all I ever talk about anymore is the baby and being pregnant, then NOT writing a post for the blog because I’m worried y’all are bored, and then just not writing anything ever, and then wash-rinse-repeating the whole cycle pretty much on the daily.

So, basically, what I’m saying is that I’m probably just going to be talking about pregnancy and the baby for a while. Maybe one day something will happen to me that is not related to either of these two things, but I think it’s safe to say that that thing will not happen in the next nine weeks.

Side bar: I only have LESS THAN TEN WEEKS left of my pregnancy? What the WHAT? Who decided that was a good idea?

That was a novel’s worth of preface, so let’s get down to brass tacks.

A sweet friend who also has a daughter recently offered me a bunch of baby stuff she and her girl had outgrown. It was your standard stuff: clothes, a baby carrier (actually, this is not standard, those thangs are pricey, and I’m so thrilled to get one as a hand-me-down!). Then she asked if I would be interested in her previously used breast pads, which she said were much more comfortable than the throwaway kind and would obviously be washed. Or, she asked, did I think that was weird?

You guys. It hadn’t even occurred to me to think it was weird. This is what happens when you become a parent: Nothing is sacred anymore.

And I think pregnancy is to blame.

Bowel movements? Discharge? Gas? Weight gain? When you’re pregnant, these things (and thinking about these things) are all part of your everyday life. You HAVE to talk about it with your doctor, and, to be honest, your girlfriends often want to know the sordid details, whether they are commiserating because they’ve been there or they are curious because one day they will be. By the time I pop this baby out, I will have completely lost sight of what is TMI.

The sad part is that I used to quietly judge parents who did this. Like, nobody wants to hear about your baby’s poop!

But you know what? If I’m telling a story, and part of the story involves the baby pooping, I already know I’m just going to say that and keep going with the story. No shame. (Though I promise not to take or make you look at photos of it. I’m not an animal.)

The fact is, pregnancy tends to wipe away a lot of insecurities (at least for me), which also removes a lot of your boundaries.

Don’t even get me started on the loss of modesty. I mean, you have to be mostly naked in front of another person several times during your pregnancy. (And, I don’t know if you know this, but someone is allll up in your junk when you actually have a baby.)

It’s gotten to the point where I pretty much start stripping down in my doctor appointments before anyone even asks me to.

No, Justine, you can keep your pants on this time.

WHOOPS.

I like to think at some point I’ll balance back out, but that’s probably wishful thinking. Besides, being able to discuss poop, gas, and weight gain now will just make it easier when I need to discuss poop, gas, and weight gain with Vivi’s doctor later. Moms can’t be grossed out by anything, you guys.

To all my baby mommas out there: Can you relate? Will I ever blush at bodily functions again?

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Typical.

Typical.

When you find yourself pregnant in a big city, you have a number of initial concerns:

How will I find the right doctor with so many options?
Can I fit a baby in my current apartment?
Ewww is that a condom on the ground of my neighborhood playground??

And, of course, the most popular and pressing:

Is anyone ever going to offer me a seat on public transportation?

That last one is especially curiosity-inducing because even women who aren’t pregnant usually want to know. I get asked all the time what the response has been, and I’m actually happy to report that I get offered a seat a lot more often than I thought I would.

But that does NOT mean I always get offered a seat. No, ma’am, it does not.

Because I am a woman of the people, I thought I’d put together a little list of who will (and who will not) generally offer a pregnant woman a seat on the subway (or bus or train or whatever public transport you prefer). That way, if you ever get knocked up, you’ll know who to stand next to whilst overacting back aches and overemphasizing your belly. Hypothetically.

You probably WILL get a seat from…young professional-looking women.
Gals in the 20-30 range who look like they’re commuting to or from work are usually your best bet. For one, they tend to not be as consumed in their phones as their teen counterparts, but they’re not so far off from the life stage of pregnancy themselves that they can’t sympathize. (If they’ve had a kid themselves, they can definitely feel you on your swollen feet and tired body.) The solidarity I feel with these ladies is actually a sweet moment in a city known for it’s selfishness. Props to women who support (and give seats to pregnant) women!

That being said…

You probably WON’T get a seat from…women who don’t like children and/or women over 40.
I know, I know, “women who don’t like kids” is hard group to describe and spot. But you’ll know them the second they glance at your swollen belly and then wrinkle their nose before deliberately avoiding your gaze. I mean, they didn’t get you pregnant. Why is this their problem? As for my middle-aged ladies…I can’t explain it. Maybe they also don’t like kids, maybe they’re just tired. But whatever the reason, they tend to hold their peace and their seat. Go with God. (Or something.)

You probably WILL get a seat from…old men.
And you will struggle with whether or not to take the seat. Because this is the type of person you would normally have given up a seat to. But if you’re really dead tired and a wrinkly old man struggles to his feet the second he sees your rotund-ness, you will probably take this dying breed of gentleman up on his offer (after thanking him profusely, of course).

You probably WON’T get a seat from…men over 30 in business suits (especially not if they’re over 40).
I hate to generalize on the FiDi bro crowd, but business men are notoriously too busy and important to give up their precious subway seat. The kicker is that they will stare at your belly for a few minute, then make fleeting eye contact before quickly looking away and going back to pretending to be asleep or answering emails on their smart phones. (But I know which stations have wifi, pal. You’re not fooling anyone.) You just let me know the next time your business deal results in the creation of life, pumpkin, and then we’ll compare notes as to who had a tougher day, k?

You MIGHT get a seat from…men in their 20s and early 30s who aren’t wearing suits.
This group really is a toss-up. The issue most of the time is that they rarely look up from their phones to even notice you standing there growing a human in your belly. I also like to give them the benefit of the doubt that it has been PUMMELED into their brain to never assume a lady is pregnant unless she actually tells you so, and they’re worried about possibly offending you. So, a lot of the time, they stay seated. It also has to be said that they’re much more likely to offer a seat if they’re not white. Sorry, white dudes, y’all will sit there staring at my stomach — fascinated — for the entirety of the ride without even pretending to get up. And we both know that I know that you know.

You definitely WON’T get a seat from…teenagers.
Chivalry actually is dead amongst the sub-twenties set. You could literally go into labor in front of them, and they’d probably just pull out their phone to capture the moment on SnapChat while shouting, “OMG GROSSSSSS.” Teenagers. Ugh.

Now, obviously this is based entirely on anecdotal experience. So tell me: If you’ve been pregnant, who did you find was more or less likely to give you a seat? I’d actually love to hear stories of subway heroes who broke the stereotype!

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Last week, a group of my girlfriends and I got together for our book club. Before we dug into the actual book (and the plethora of treats), we sat around a bit catching up on our lives.

Since my life is basically just baby these days, we talked about that when we got around to me. My friend Kristina asked if pregnancy had been what I expected it to be or if anything surprised me.

I didn’t have a very good answer at the time because I hadn’t really thought about it, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since then.

Honestly, I always kind of thought (hoped?) that I would enjoy being pregnant. I don’t know why. I mean, a lot of people don’t. And it certainly comes with a host of discomforts. But for whatever reason, I looked forward to the chance to carry a baby and felt optimistic about the process.

And, for the most part, I have really enjoyed it. Yes, it helps that I am incredibly fortunate that getting and staying pregnant went smoothly for me. Yes, it helps that I managed to dodge difficult morning sickness and a host of other unpleasantness a lot of women go through. Some of those things I could impact, others were just the way it turned out. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful.

But there was one aspect of pregnancy that I always assumed I would have a big problem with: gaining weight.

I mean, it’s kind of a head trip. As a woman, you’re nearly constantly bombarded with confusing messages about your body and what it should be, and, as a rule, those messages tell you that you need to be smaller and weigh less. Like a lot of women my age (like a lot of women any age?), I spent a large portion of my life trying to weigh less or trying to maintain my lowest weight.

And now you’re telling me I need to undo all that hard work and deliberately try to gain weight? Are you crazy?!

Part of me was deliciously enticed by the possibility (guilt-free weight gain!). Another part of me was totally terrified.

Because, you guys? I’ve gained weight before. Significant amounts of weight. (Though, of course, that’s subjective.) And the resulting shame spiral took me to dark, spiny mental places that I worked for years to get out of. It destroyed my relationship with my body and just generally screwed me up for a while. I clawed my way out of that place. And I work actively and aggressively to keep myself from going back there.

So…I was scared. Because I didn’t want to feel negative feelings about anything associated with creating my baby. I wanted the process to be filled with love and joy as much as possible. Maybe that sounds naive, but it was how I had always pictured and hoped the experience would be.

And then I got pregnant. And, yes, obviously, started to gain weight. And you know what?

It hasn’t bothered me even the teeniest, tiniest bit.

It probably helps that I NEVER weigh myself except at my doctor appointments. Not in pre-pregnancy life, and certainly not now. Like always, I let the way my clothes fit and the way I feel determine if my size is acceptable, instead of attaching too much meaning to a silly, downright objective number.

I’m not delusional — I know that I’ve gained 10-12 pounds (maybe more…I have an appointment next week) in the last seven months. It’s just that…I couldn’t care less. Yes, I know it’s weight for the baby (even though the little miss is only two-ish pounds, the rest is all fluid and uterus and that whole extra organ your body grows to feed your baby, the placenta), so maybe that contributes to my not freaking out about it.

But beyond not caring about the extra pounds, I feel so much more loving toward my body than I ever thought I would. It’s like I’ve found an old friend after years of (at times) abusive silence.

I’m so proud of my body for not only growing a human full-time, but also for sticking it out through the still-challenging workouts that I put it through to maintain my mental balance. I cherish the increasingly convex curve of my stomach way more than I ever did its flatter counterpart because this tummy lovingly cradles my baby all day and night. I want to high-five my swiftly changing reflection so I can congratulate my body on being a total rockstar and miraculously knowing exactly what to do to create and nurture another person.

The most surprising thing about this process, for me, is how much awe it has filled me with. For women and their amazing bodies. For God who created them in his incredible wisdom.

I’m proud of the mental journey I’ve made and my newfound ability to see myself as I really am for possibly the first time in my life — wonderfully made.

I’m officially into the third trimester.

Even just writing that sentence fills me with, well, all the feelings.

I’m excited. I’m so, so, so excited that it’s almost time to finally have our little girl in our arms. Joey and I talk every day about how much we can’t wait to meet her and how much we’re looking forward to even the most mundane moments. (Baby’s first yawn? It’s gonna kill me dead.)

I’m nervous. You guys, I’m going to be a mom. That’s…big. One of the biggest things I’ve ever done. I want so much to be good at it without driving anyone (myself included) crazy. That’s a lot of pressure.

I’m (a little) stressed. There is so much I want to do before Vivian makes her grand entrance. Blame it on the nesting, but whatever it is, here’s everything that has been crowding my to-do list:

1. Finish the nursery.
Obviously this is a big one. We’re planning to paint her room this weekend (and I’ll hopefully get a start on the mural wall on Sunday). I also have some frames that I need to paint and fill for her walls. As soon as that’s done, we’ll order the crib. I’ve been looking around on Craigslist for the perfect dresser/changing table, but I haven’t found the right one yet. I also need to start finding alternate places for everything we’ve been storing in the room until now.

2. Organize the hall and front closet.
I’ve mentioned before the weird abundance of closet space our apartment has. The front coat closet and hall closet are two that I feel are a bit underutilized at the moment. Now that we’re much more settled, I want to basically take everything out of each of them and put it back in a way that makes the most sense. Being me, I’m of course weirdly excited to do this. In a similar vein, I also want to reorganize our cellar space. This is largely a room for Joey’s sports equipment and bigger items we don’t have room for, but I think it could be a little neater.

3. Do my bi-annual clothing cull.
I’m very serious about my twice-yearly clothing sorts where I get rid of anything that is cluttering up our closets. Since the little miss will be arriving around the time I usually do my fall closet purge, I’d like to get that taken care of over the summer. (Since, you know, I’ve heard people with newborns are fairly busy people.)

4. Just…generally clean everything?
I think I can definitely blame this one on the nesting, but I want to get at least one deep cleaning in sometime late summer. My mom is planning to spend a week or two with us after Vivi is born, so I know she will be extremely helpful with the general upkeep of the apartment, but I’ll feel better if I know everything has had a fairly recent scrub-down. I also want to finish up any last-minute decor plans I’ve had rolling around my head so I’m not, I don’t know, staring at those spots on the walls that need paint touch-ups in Vivian’s third month. Hypothetically.

5. Get my own maintenance in.
As I said, people with babies seem pretty busy. So I want to get myself in order (as much as possible) before the baby gets here. That means dentist appointments, hair appointments, and any other last-minute things-that-make-me-feel-healthy-and-like-myself appointments needs to be scheduled sometime in August. Think of it as a pre-baby tune-up.

Okay, all written down, this list feels much more manageable. I really need about four solid weekends to get everything done. (Not the easy request since July is already pretty much taken up, but I still think I can get it done.)

Am I forgetting anything?

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In general, I find it kind of fascinating to observe the general population’s reactions to pregnant people. Whether it’s determining who is most likely to give up their seat on the subway (more on this later) or watching strangers struggle to control their “must touch the belly!” reflex, being pregnant (especially in a big city) is nothing short of non-stop social experiment.

That includes the reactions you get when you work out with a baby bump.

I’ve made a concerted effort to keep up with my workout routine as much as possible since I got pregnant. Prior to the bean, I worked out pretty hard 5-6 times per week. When we wanted to get pregnant, my doc recommended cutting back because there is some indication in recent studies that exercise can have negative effects on fertility. (Well+Good actually did an article on this in January if you’re interested in some of the science behind it.) Because I’m impatient (and, oh yeah, really wanted to get pregnant without too much trouble), I started cutting back on my vigorous workouts when we started trying. Which, really, meant cutting back on every workout I did. I go hard, yo.

I didn’t love tempering my workouts (I also didn’t love the handful of pounds I gained when I did), but fortunately I ended up getting pregnant the following month. Were the two actions directly correlated? I’ll probably never know. But I like to think I was at least doing everything I could to make the process go smoothly.

Ironically, while doctors recommend cutting back on exercise to get pregnant, they’re actually pretty encouraging about hitting the gym once you’re knocked up. The only warnings my doc gave me were to avoid trying anything new or where I could get injured easily, like rock climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding (um…no problem?), and to try not to surpass an 8 on the “how hard is this from 1-10″ scale. Generally, that meant pushing myself without pushing my heart rate above 140 so I was never breathless.

Obviously, every pregnancy is different and you should make your own decisions based on whatever advice your doctor gives you and how you feel, but in general, your Great-Aunt Bertha’s advice to avoid anything more strenuous than climbing the stairs is pretty outdated.

It took me a while to really start showing, so for a few months, I was able to exercise while pregnant without causing much of a fuss. I stopped attending super hardcore bootcamps, like Barry’s or this studio I used to go to that trains you to do obstacle runs, and I held back a bit more in spin class. Otherwise, it was business as usual.

In the last month, though, things have started to change. And by “things,” I mean my belly. Despite being officially into bump territory, I’m still able to do most of my workouts without too many new modifications. I mean, I can’t lie on my tummy anymore, I have to adjust my handlebars higher in spin, and I had to sit out a half marathon Joey and a bunch of my friends ran recently, but all in all, I still feel like I can push myself and usually leave class feeling like I got a good workout.

The real difference is in the responses I get from trainers.

I have to say: If you ever really want to know how experienced a particular trainer is, watch how they handle having a pregnant woman in class.

Less experienced trainers always act they they have been thrown a gigantic curve ball (literally?) and will usually over-modify everything to the point where you might as well just be lying in a bed and sitting up every now and then. I mean, I get it. They (and I) would rather I got less of a workout than anything or anyone got injured. But if I’m going to take the time to show up and the trouble of having to wash my hair later, I want to feel like it was worth it.

Of course, there are always the less experienced trainers who basically just ask you to tell them what you can and cannot do. This is where it pays to be informed and aware of your own body. I generally tell these folks that I can’t do sprints, but everything else I can handle or will modify so I’m comfortable. That usually calms them down enough for you to work out in peace.

It’s much better, though, when you end up with a more experienced trainer. I’ve even had a few who have prenatal training certifications, which is awesome because you feel so much more comfortable letting them push you instead of trying to feel out for yourself where your limits are. Plus, these are usually the folks who don’t look at you like you’re broken somehow.

The trainers who are truly the best are the ones who have kids of their own. Female trainers with kids obviously get what you’re going through (and understand that if you’re still showing up to class, it’s because you still want to get a good sweat session in), and male trainers are usually just really nice to you because they’ve dealt with a pregnant lady before.

Over all, and like most aspects of pregnancy, I’ve found you just have to be your own best advocate. Pay attention to your body, and trust it. Let the trainer know you’re pregnant (I usually share this info when they ask if there are any injuries, but I always say, “I’m not injured, but I’m pregnant”) so they won’t try to push you more than you are comfortable with during class — but from there, do what feels right. As a trainer (who is a nurse and has had two babies) told me recently, “The baby will tell you when you can’t do that anymore.”

For me, keeping up with my workouts benefits me physically, emotionally, and mentally. I feel more like myself, I have more energy, and I’m told it will make labor and recovery a lot easier down the line. What’s not to like?

Have you worked out while pregnant? What kinds of responses did you get? What are your best tips?