Friday, November 20, 2015
In the Haitian tradition, a zombi is a person who has died, been magically revived by a bokor—a sorcerer—and then to act as a slave to the bokor or whomever really wants a shaggy half-alive manservant.
At this stage of my pregnancy, I feel like the fetus is the bokor and I'm the zombi. My bokor, instead of asking me to, like, dig holes or do unpleasant tasks, is primarily interested in tracking down and eating all the soft, white, salty foods we can get our hands on: President's Choice White Cheddar mac 'n' cheese, boiled perogies, pizza, raviolis of various sizes and fillings (let's not kid ourselves: cheese raviolis), various breakfast cereals, all the cookies a human being could ever consume, and more.
I literally feel like I've been hypnotized.
I knew, going into this pregnancy, that there would come a day when I could reach My Highest Weight Ever. This record was previously held in 2012, when I weighed 159 pounds on a 5'1" frame, and I wore a size 12/14. In photos from that time, you can see all that weight I'm carrying: my boobs are huge, my face is swollen, my stomach puffs out over my belt loops. I had terrible digestive issues at the time: chronic bloating and diarrhea, nausea after I ate, and a whole host of other intestinal maladies that are, frankly, pretty gross.
Riffling even further back through the calendar pages, the colonic disruptions I dealt with in 2012 were probably a result of a decade-plus of bingeing and purging. Bulimia is a stupid, ugly disease, made stupider and uglier by the fact that, often, the very things a bulimic is trying to control—a puffy face, for instance, or a bloated stomach—are exacerbated by the binge/purge cycle. I took myself through a decade of shitty behaviours before wising up in 2010. I got a dietician, who told me to eat the food groups; I started working out once or twice a week; I stopped sticking my finger down my throat.
Ironically, the course correction took a physical toll. Between 2010 and 2012, I gained 30 pounds. I was eating normal food, but it made me feel like garbage; I felt like garbage, and there was no healthy way for me to fight it. When I switched to a paleo diet midway through 2012, tiny alarms bells rang—alarm chimes, really—because I had to ask, was I restricting? And then the weight started to come off and my skin cleared up and my poops became somewhat less life-ruining, and I had made a good choice. Adding in a rigorous weight-lifting habit a couple times a week meant that, when I wanted a slice of cheesecake, I could have one, along with abs and tricep muscles and a thick neck that I'm sort of proud of. (Kochany necks are the thickest, and it's sexy. We look like bulls.) I was proud of my body! After a decade of eating disorders and recovery, I felt like I had reclaimed something that had been mine the whole time.
So anyway, now that we're through that long, TMI preamble, here's my point: I was wholly unprepared for the mental shell game of the healthy weight gain that comes with pregnancy. I feel utterly bombarded with messaging around how I'm supposed to look—from weight gain calculators to Instagram posts to mom-friends on Facebook, there seems to be a "good" way of looking pregnant, and it involves staying cute and lithe and doing lots of prenatal fitness. And I feel, in my seventh-months glory, like a fucking water buffalo.
I do not feel glowy. I do not feel cute. I do not feel like a goddamn goddess. I feel like, if I wanted to ever lose any baby weight, I should have all my kids before I turned 30. I look at my friends who had kids and who bounced back to their pre-baby bodies in a matter of months, and I despair. I read blogs that say that I will never get my pre-baby body back, and that this is a good thing! Look at what I'm gaining! I see stretch marks being reframed as "tiger stripes" and I feel like these women are fooling themselves. I can't work out right now, because I'm too tired and sore from the physical angst of hauling around this belly all day to do the intensive cardio/weight regime that usually keeps me in check. Hell, even just walking around the damn block creates all these cramps and round ligament pains and aches.
And then I eat half a box of macaroni and cheese, because I'm starving and our tiny sorcerer is asking for sacrifice.
I'm now four pounds away from My Highest Weight Ever, and I'm freaking out. My face? Puffy. My stomach? Well, it's big. It's hard to the touch. If you want a simulacra of this experience, please shove a fully-loaded laundry basket under your shirt and then try to put on your socks. I can literally see my child twist and turn inside me, which is magical, but also deeply weird. I was told that I can gain between 25 and 40 pounds while growing this kid. So far, I've gained 23, and I have another eight weeks to go. I feel as dense as a dying star.
This is clearly one of those "get it out, get it down," posts, because I'm not really sure what I'm looking for (maybe a paleo mac 'n' cheese recipe?). Just as I couldn't anticipate the physical and emotional toll this process would take, I can't predict what the recovery will look like. I can't know what my body will look like in a year, or five, and I really can't figure out how I'll feel about it. So maybe, if anything, a reassurance that this too shall pass, and that there will come a day, very soon, where I lose anywhere from five to ten pounds in a single day, and this day might change everything.
Image via Tom Gauld