12 Weeks Pregnant (New Ultrasound Picture!)

How Far Along? Twelve weeks, three days.

Courtesy of www.thebump.com.

Maternity Clothes? We are there! The “regular” jeans do not work. I love stretchy-waist pants. I need maternity tops. Between my ridiculously huge bust expansion and my new bump, there is no regular summer tee that covers both top and bottom. Thank goodness for Gap sales–six more maternity shirts are on their way. My lovely sister-in-law is letting me borrow her maternity clothes, but I won’t get them until after she gives birth in July. Yeah, we’re going to need a few basics to get us from here to July! I am still pretty excited for all the cute, non-basics she sports. She has excellent taste, that lady.

Weight Gain? Still about 8-10 lbs. I ate a ton in the first couple weeks, then the nausea kicked in. To be perfectly honest, I was not eating enough before I got pregnant. Anxiety has a really great knack for killing my appetite. I am now hungry much more often, I am sure it’s because of the pregnancy in general, but it’s also because I am less anxious, now. Why would I become less anxious during pregnancy? There are many theories, but nobody knows. All I have to say is: thank you, God! (That’s a sincere thank you to the God I sincerely believe in.)

Stretch Marks? Oh, yes. All on the breasts. It makes me sad. There were already stretch marks from my A-D overnight expansion during middle school.

Sleep? I’m not sleeping as easily as I was sleeping during the first trimester. I keep dreaming that I’m chain smoking and realize just before I wake up that I’m pregnant. (I used to smoke–self-medicaiton for anxiety. Turned out to be ineffective but addictive. Yeah, I know. Duh!) I am still sleeping better than I was before, though!

Best Moment so Far? During the last ultrasound, about 10 days ago, Bug rubbed tiny, sealed-shut eyes with teeny tiny fists! Yes, I died of cute, a little. It’s one of the first reflexes they develop, by the way.

Movement? Yes, actually! There is sometimes a fluttering in my uterus when I lay down at night. It makes me think of butterflies. No, it’s not gas. Gas never makes me think of butterflies. And by this point in pregnancy, I know a lot about every possible kind of gas bubble. This is Bug. And it’s awesome, awe-inspiring, all-around extraordinary. I’m in love.

Gender/Sex? See here.

What I miss? I want my pretty, normal-sized bras back, and I want my chest to stop hurting. Seriously, there is so much pain some days. This H cup nonsense is for the birds. And I have no idea if my old figure will ever come back or when. Post coming soon on body issues.

Symptoms:

  • Cravings: potatoes (any variety, but especially chips and fried) but mostly cheese. Beans and rice and anything spicy are also on the list, but I eat lots of cheese every day.
  • Food aversions: I can drink coffee again. I found this out the hard way, when I woke up this morning with a migraine and a Double Shot left over in the fridge from the last migraine plus two tylenol were the most pregnancy-safe solutions I could find. (Did you know that a Starbucks Double Shot, supposedly containing two shots of espresso, has only 130 mg of caffeine in them? That’s a lot, but pregnant women are allowed up to 250/300 mg per day. Just FYI. And a little prod to never give a pregnant woman with a Starbucks or Dunkin cup in her hand a single dirty look. Ever. Even if there are three shots of espresso in that cup, she is not engaging in anything her doctor wouldn’t approve.)
  • Second Trimester signs: no more nausea! Baby bump!
  • I already mentioned the breast issue. It bears repeating. OUCH!

What I’m looking forward to: On Thursday, we will have a “fancy ultrasound” – my gyn’s words. It’s actually the somewhat-controversial NT scan. My pregnancy apps warned me to think about this in advance, but we weren’t even asked if we wanted what is known as “first-trimester screening.” It is optional, and I had already decided to do it.

The controversy comes from the fact that the blood work I had done on Saturday, plus the ultrasound on Thursday, done by an ultrasound tech (my doctor has done all of them thus far), will give us a number that is meant to indicate the risk of our baby having Down’s Syndrome. This is controversial for many couples because of the common (and in my experience mis-) conception that a “high risk” result will lead to the termination of the pregnancy. For everyone I’ve talked to, we want to know if the risk is high so that we can prepare ourselves for parenting a special needs child. In our case, I’d need to apply for a lot of government help, and I’d really rather start that learning curve the day I give birth. Honestly, though, our risk is so low–no family history, I’m under 30–that I am looking forward to Thursday because it means more time with Bug! My mother-in-law, soon to be known as “Gram,” is coming up from Long Island to “meet” Bug. Because the fetus has to be in a certain position for the tech to get the right measurement (they are apparently measuring the ‘translucency’ of the fat on the back of the little fetus’s neck–sounds difficult to me!), this scan could take awhile. There’s an alternate babysitter lined up for the baby I care for. We are all ready and waiting to see Bug for as long as they’ll let us!

What I’ve Learned about Pregnancy: I have felt and will continue to feel my uterus expand. Maybe this should have been obvious. It was not. I was quite shocked to feel myself being stretched from the inside. I know–totally weird and kind of creepy. Also? Ouch.

Milestones: The first trimester is done! (That means our risk of a miscarriage is really low, now.) And I’m showing! Did I mention that I’m showing?

I know, all of a sudden, a person! Albeit, a person with a head as big as his/her body... Also, those little round dots? Hands! We saw kicking legs and feet, too, but they're not visible in this photo.

Emotions: Mostly happy. Some of alllll the rest of them, too, including sad and mad, specially when I get dressed and see a body I don’t recognize. Looking at my bump? Happy! Looking at my newly doughy, giggly hips and thighs? Confused. Looking at my unrecognizable chest? Mad. Oh, hai, body issues! Not nice to see you again.
Oh, and ecstatic describes my feeling on opening easter packages from Nathan’s mom and step-mom containing tiny outfits with duckies, froggies and safari animals, and even a teething blankie with a freaking panda on it. Oh, the cute!

Rethinking Sports… “Just Do It” For The Kids.

I have fond memories of playing catch with my dad. I enjoyed softball for awhile. I even had fun on the soccer team for a whole year, thanks to my friend Jessica. But, true to the polarized mind of the teenager who sees only in black and white, if I were the “Smart Girl,” then I most certainly was not going to be athletic. (Kids did actually use “Smart Girl” to taunt me. I still don’t know why that was such a bad thing.) Team sports at my school were dominated by girls who played down their intelligence. I remember one girl who did well in school and in sports, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she participated in things like running and swimming–teams, but more dependent on individual achievement than basketball and volleyball, the girls’ sports that really drew crowds.

My niece is old enough to participate in sports, already, and it’s really important to me to encourage her in both school and athletics. I think I missed out on a lot of fun, but I also envy people for whom physical activity comes naturally. I want my niece (and nephew!) to want sports to be part of their lives, for all the obvious reasons, but also to keep them safe. Check this out: [quote]Although sports and physical activity are a part of girls’ and boys’ lives in and out of school at varying levels, girls tend to be less active than boys. The sports, education, youth development, and out-of-school time fields can provide opportunity for girls to engage in positive, healthy physical activity.[/quote]

        • In 2005, a much higher percentage of adolescent males participate in vigorous physical activity than do their female peers. Within all racial and ethnic subgroups, activity levels for males are between 13 and 19 percentage points higher than for females. For all grades, activity levels for males are between 10 and 20 percentage points higher than for females. (ChildTrends.org, Child and Youth Indicators Databank: Vigorous Physical Activity by Youth, 2006)
        • In 2005, more high school females (72.2%) than their male counterparts (56.2%) did not meet currently recommended levels of physical activity—doing any kind of physical that increased their heart rate and made them breathe hard for a total of at least 60 minutes per day. (Centers for Disease Control, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States 2005)
        • The more physically active girls are, the greater their self-esteem and the more satisfied they are with their weight, regardless of how much they weigh. Eighty-three percent of very active girls say that physical activity makes them feel good about themselves. (The Girl Scout Research Institute, The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living (2006))
        • For girls ages 11-17 it is the perception of being overweight, not just weight alone, that inhibits participation in sports and physical activities. (The Girl Scout Research Institute, The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living (2006))
        • For teen girls, being both physically active and a team sports participant is associated with a lower prevalence of sexual risk-taking behaviors. (Kulig, K., Brener, N. & McManus, T. Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2003)
        • A study of school reading texts found that boys were represented in physical activities 65% of the time, while girls were represented 35% of the time. In addition, boys dominated throwing and catching activities, while girls dominated dance and swing-set activities. (Henschel-Pellet, H.A. Research Quarterly, 2001) —Girl Scouts of America

All of this makes sense to me–if you are aware of the amazing things your teenage body can do you’re bound to have a more accurate perception of what it looks like–except the part at the end about school texts. I do not want my niece or nephew or any kids I may have to be reading in their darn textbooks that boys are the real athletes. But even if they do, I figure that the women in their lives can counteract that image. How? Well, I’m not sure it’ll work, but I have two ideas, so far.

One: I’m going to participate in watching sports. Turns out, I actually enjoy it. I always was a competitive person! I’m starting now, so that I know the rules by the time our future children see us watching football together. Nathan did spend about eight hours watching NFL football yesterday, and I’m not sure I want to set that example. I do want them to see us watching his–now our–favorite team. (The Jets. He grew up on Long Island. I grew up watching the Vikings, but I’ll just own up now to not being very loyal… and to liking the Jets cheer better.) I love the ritual, and I still find it adorable that my normally un-superstitious husband has to wear his jersey and eat more or less the same foods every Sunday. To be fair, the Jets almost lost the time he forgot his jersey, and they just barely won after he remembered to put it on. Oh, and remind me to repeat in ten years the fantastic conversation we had about why there are no female kickers in football. There’s no physical disadvantage, unlike in every other position in the game, but it’s still not at all open to women. Court cases have gotten some women onto college teams, but they had a rough time. Brave women, all of them!

Two: I’m going to run around with my kids and throw a ball with accuracy and force. I practice with our dog, although I often use a “ball chucker” so my arm doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall off. Catching a ball might take a little more work. For some reason I’ve always been able to throw any kind of ball, even a football, pretty well, but I now psych myself out of catching things. I will not giggle and run away, though. I will at least try and catch the stupid thing. Hey, it may just show them that you can enjoy doing things even if you’re not good at them! Just don’t blame me for demanding a good game of Scrabble sometimes just to prove I can dominate at something.

My brother-in-law and my husband are both totally awesome about answering my questions when we’re watching a game. And they both watcheverything. World Cup time is particularly awesome. Women’s World Cup games get air time, too. I have awesome memories of watching the NBA finals when the Lakers were great in the late 1990s. My sister and her then boyfriend (now husband) live in Los Angeles. I spent time there every summer as a kid. (She’s eleven years older than I am.) I watched the games with my sister, future brother-in-law and his friends. No one minded answering my questions during commercial breaks, and it was the first time I understood what was happening. It was really cool to hang out with grown-ups, and it was really cool to see my sister enjoying the game as much as ay of the guys. I still feel like an outsider in this weird world of sports, but a game is a game. Like I said, I have always been competitive.

Do you have other ideas about what I can do to show the kids in my life that women belong in sports, too? I can’t change the fact that mens’ professional sports get a lot more attention. But I can make being active a natural part of our family’s life. I can have a sense of humor about the fact that my strengths lie in my intellectual, rather than physical pursuits, without just giving up at everything physical. What else can I do, having spent most of my time reading? Please, more ideas! Oh, and do the commercials that air during sporting events push back against the image of seeing Mom and Dad watching the game? I worry about that. They’re just so awful.

As a matter of fact, please “dislike” this on YouTube. It makes me red-in-the-face angry every time I see it! Why would any reasonable woman demand that “her” man stop doing something he enjoys just because women are not supposed to like it, too? This is just bull crap in so many ways. And this is what I want to fight against just by showing the kids in my life that I can cheer for an awesome catch or recognize an awesome play.

McDonald’s: Sundays Are For Watching Football?

Save Girlhood! and How I Learned to Accept TV

Two events coincided at an interesting moment yesterday. One: my husband’s dream came true, and Direct TV hooked up the satellite dish that brings him a ridiculous amount of NFL and college football. We haven’t had anything except the XBox hooked up to our TV as long as we’ve lived together, so he’s pretty darn excited. I, honestly, am more excited than I expected. What I didn’t realize was that we were signed up for a two-year contract. Whatever. I now have access to BBC America, and this Anglophile is one happy camper.

TV with DVR

Evil Media? Not if used properly! And it's pretty cool looking, you have to admit!

So last night, while my husband watched football, I participated in a discussion called Save Girlhood on Twitter. (This blogger is officially media savvy. Well, I’m getting there!) What do we want to save girlhood from, you ask? Why, sexualization, of course. The kind we see in, well, the ads that air during NFL games. But for those of you who are new to this debate, I’ll let this fantastic lady fill you in:

@nancy_newmoon sexuality is the inner person, as the subject and proactive. sexualization is others projecting on you as passive object.

(Nancy Gruver is an “Expert on girls, author: How to Say It To Girls, Founder: Daughters.com & ad-free @NewMoonGirls Safe Social Network & Magazine for age 8+ www.newmoon.com http://blogs.newmoon.com/parent-girls” – from her Twitter profile. I have loved New Moon since I was small.)

Read this blog, in its entirety, or, if you don’t have time, this post on Lingerie for Little Girls (not a joke) will fill you in on what exactly we’re up against. What does TV have to do with it? Well, I want to have a kid, right? And this isn’t just about girls. It’s also about the messages we send boys about girls. So whether I have a boy, a girl or both, this matters. Here are some highlights from last night’s conversation about the media and its role in the sexualization of girls:

@PigtailPals Q3: Do you limit toys/music/media for your daughter with concern to sexualization?

@DrRobyn: Q3: I’m a fan of actually taking the media, toys, etc and showing #girls the problems. discussing them.

@DrBeckerSchutte: when we teach our girls to be critical of media, we give them tools to push back against peer pressure.

@MauveDinosaur If their peers and media is all they have, that’s all they see.

@KnowldgeLinking: Want another shocker? 29% of kids age 2-3 have TV in their bedrooms. 43% of kids age 4-6 do

@DCalifornia: I think TV is a wonderful conversation starter. Good or bad, talk about it, discuss it, point out why it is or isn’t ok

@TheMomarchy Watching TV w kids is one of the best strategies. Called “co-viewing” in research.

I have never been sure what I think about kids and TV. Obviously, TV is not a babysitter. Unsupervised TV is not an option. A DVR will allow us to remove the commercials. [FYI: Kids can’t tell the difference between the program and the commercials! They don’t have that necessary “this is an ad, and advertisers lie to me” automatic response!] For most of my childhood, we watched movies but didn’t have channels via cable or satellite. I think that this was probably for financial reasons. I’m thinking maybe having TV in our house isn’t such a bad idea, with limits and not in the bedroom and, for many years, watching with the kids. I reserve the right to change my mind at any time. Well, I reserve the right to ask that we do not renew the contract. But even if we decide not to pay for this after we have a kid (and let’s face it–there are lots of things we won’t be able to pay for after we have a kid), our children will encounter the crap that’s on TV, and the good stuff too, somewhere. It’s just so accessible. And that’s now–I am going to have to know a lot about what is out there if I want to have a conversation with my child when she or he is ten years old. In 11+ years, it’s just going to be easier to get access to anything we try to ban.

I don’t want to ban media; I want to talk about it and teach our kids to make healthy choices. And the more Nathan and I talk about parenting, the more we agree that all we can do is try to raise healthy, compassionate, self-respecting children who make (mostly) good choices. Our shared goal is to model those choices for our kids. What we choose to watch on TV? Role modeling opportunity! Showing our kids that men and women like sports? Awesome! Talking about why that commercial we just saw during The Game is Bad Media? Teachable moment. Ok, so that’s not going down as easy… maybe too many teachable moments in that scenario. But we’ll figure this out as we go. With help from a seriously awesome support group, if the parents and friends of girls I met last night are any indication!

Body Image: Remember the Future

Let’s talk about body image. It’s come up a lot, lately, and I went to the beach yesterday wearing my yellow polka dot bikini and could not help but bask in my own enjoyment of my body. I won’t lie–I did compare my body to the very thin body of the friend next to me and long for smaller thighs. But I smashed that thought like an ant at a picnic. I wouldn’t trade this hour glass for anything! And any kids I end up having will benefit from that hard-won attitude.

Take a look at few things I’ve come across just this morning (I did not google “body image”–this all showed up in my Facebook news feed):

Moms pass on body hatred to daughters: Your kids are listening.

Moms buy a children’s book about going on a diet for their daughters. No, I haven’t come across this in any of the homes I work in. If I do, I’ll be having a conversation with the parents, ASAP.

Yesterday:

Photoshopping Phoniness: Beauty altered out of reality and, often, out of beauty.

Fighting Childhood Obesity: The fight to improve childhood nutrition.

First, one unusually great thing about my childhood: my parents served really healthy food, and I’m now glad that I never won my campaign for white instead of brown rice and/or bread. Partly for financial reasons, we never had soda, sugary cereal or salty snacks just lying around the house. Treats were treats. You know what? I don’t want to spend my money on junk, either. So my body is thin and my skin healthy in part because I have always eaten healthy foods.

I didn’t manage to have a great body image, though. Not even a good one. I didn’t believe that I was pretty, not really, until I was about 19 years old. I was convinced that I was probably fat from the moment my body started changing; growing from a lanky, athletic, into a curvy woman was miserable for me. I didn’t know that there would be an awkward phase. I thought it was all supposed to happen so gracefully. Wearing the clothes that I thought I should fit into instead of clothes that actually fit me meant that I wore a B cup bra when I was already a D–in the eighth grade. To be perfectly honest, I still haven’t forgiven the boy who said, “Anne-Marie? Is she the one with the huge boobs?” I’d really rather never see him again. The point is that I didn’t look in the mirror to see how I looked, I looked at Seventeen magazine to see how I should look. I had days when I felt pretty, and I did not have any type of eating disorder or disordered eating. But I was most definitely hiding.

I directly my compulsive energy towards school. I did homework the way other kids played sports. I talked about colleges like other girls talked about boys; no really, I started researching colleges at age fourteen. Once I chose Barnard College in New York City, I wore my sweatshirt almost every day. It was too big and very comfy. I may have also stopped washing my hair… not entirely, just not every day or even every other day. To put it simply, I was unhappy. With myself, my body, my surroundings, my family, boys–you name it, I was angry at it. I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone, so I hid.

I was still hiding when I got to college, but I made friends. The best friends. They saved me. They helped me knock down some of the walls I had built around my real self. And they pretty much forced me to buy clothes that fit my actual body. Not the one I thought I had–not the overweight body that didn’t actually exist or the tiny, skinny body I had so wanted–but the body that I really had. I also became pretty active and ate less ice cream because, well, I got happy. So I lost a lot of weight. I bought a whole new wardrobe. And please, if you meet my friends from college, don’t mention “polo shirts” or “khakis” because they still enjoy laughing (with me, of course, not at me) about the over-sized polos and khakis I was wearing when I met them.

Here’s the big bad body image trap I sidestepped–I did not ignore my body enough to have sex too young or take too many crazy risks. I knew that there would be emotional fall-out from sex, so I waited. (It helped that, like I said, I hid under a hoodie during high school.) I made mistakes, but I knew they were mistakes while I was making them.

Here’s why I think it’s related to body image and therefore to self-esteem: if young people don’t like themselves, they don’t like their bodies and they don’t think that it matters if they take these risks. I suspect that this is true because when my self-esteem was at its lowest (oh, say, around the time I went to the psych ward), I stopped taking good care of my body. I ate sporadically because I just didn’t care. I stopped doing laundry because I just wore my pajamas. I know it’s gross. I didn’t shower often enough. I really just didn’t feel that it mattered. And my future? That seemed really, impossibly far away.

So, this morning, I saw a discussion on the Pigtail Pals Facebook page about young women’s attitudes about casual sex and unplanned pregnancy, and I read that Melissa Wardy finds it “Shocking in how cavalier they are towards their bodies, health, and futures.” I felt like I was zooming back through my own sexual experiences and my friends’ stories about their sexual experiences.

Let’s pause for a minute: I have always been shocked at a cavalier attitude toward body, health and future, in my peers, in younger women, in older women, in men of all ages, but the reason for this is odd. You see, I was raised by a puritanical father to believe I could control any and every sexual impulse. He liked to lecture. “What would people think of me if I wore a short skirt! What would people think of me if they knew that I had spent time alone with a boy!” He actually made sure that I knew he would be sleeping on the couch for the few weeks we lived with my stepmother before he married her. I was eighteen at the time. I believe that my reaction to that was “Daaaaaaaddddd! I don’t want to know!” In my house, before I left for college, any conversation about sex was pretty over-the-top. I swallowed, hook, line and sinker, my dad’s line about sex being this peripheral, almost unnecessary thing we don’t really need to talk about. I thought as a teenager that I would become a Self-Realization Fellowship nun so I talked to quite a few. (SRF doesn’t have much in common with the Catholic church, but our nuns do practice celibacy.) For the record, my dad’s craziness is not even similar to anything you would ever come across in any official SRF text or in any conversation with a monk or nun. Fortunately, I did finally realize that all of my dad’s nonsense was, well, nonsense, to put it mildly, partly through talking to actual nuns about why they practice celibacy and why “householders” deserve equal respect to “monastics.” But. Back to the real topic.

Let’s just say that eventually, I got around to exploring my sexuality. The sheer force of sex and my own desire knocked the wind out of me. By that time, though, I was mature enough to handle all those emotions and to take care of my body. I had the bad habit of thinking of my body as something that I couldn’t really trust, but I didn’t have the bad habit of using sex to feel beautiful or valuable. As you might imagine, I am still working through some serious Daddy Issues, and I looked for Daddy’s approval via proxy in plenty of my past relationships. For many reasons, though, I did not go out and look for casual sex in order to feel good about myself. I’m lucky, because the risks I did take never resulted in a sexually transmitted infection or an unplanned pregnancy.

Fast forward: my high school and college classmates and I are going to turn 27 in the course of the next year. More of us are getting married. More of us have kids, or like me, are preparing to have kids. And I can’t help but wonder. So many of us took such poor care of our bodies. So many of us did not really believe that our futures would really, truly, catch up to us. We punished our bodies with alcohol, cigarettes (my vice of choice), unprotected sex, eating disorders. For most of us, it was just for a few years. I quit smoking. I don’t know many friends who still binge drink. For most of the people I’m close to, unprotected sex was not ok, even when casual sex was fun and frequent. But it really is just anecdotal knowledge taken from a small sample of just the people I know well enough to hear such intimate details. Do I know someone whose body is haunted by a mistake she made? Do I know a woman who got an STI when we were young, still has it and must factor that in to current relationships and future plans? Do I know someone who will not be able to become pregnant because she contracted an infection or suffered complications after aborting an unplanned pregnancy? Do I know a man who has become infertile as a result of an early encounter? I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to know. It’s painful to think about consequences actually having stayed with anyone this long after one of our parties or nights out.

It still doesn’t seem real that the cigarettes I smoked could mean cancer later in life. And if I’m honest, that knowledge is not what got me to quit. I quit because I could not be around babies and small children if I smelled like smoke. I don’t just mean that no one would hire me; they wouldn’t. But I couldn’t bring myself to carry that into their worlds. Why could I do it for them, but not for me? The really bad choices–the ones we can only make after silencing the voice that says “Use a condom!” or “You’ll get cancer!”–would anything short of a snapshot of the future stop us from making those mistakes?