Tuesday, May 3, 2016

On babies and body shapes

I was napping, or rather trying to, on a rainy Thursday afternoon last week after having a dreadful sleep the previous night that had left me quite groggy and muddle-minded. Part of the source of the evening’s poor sleep was the awkwardness of my new body shape—my torso feels like I’m wearing a barrel for a shirt, like some image I must remember from an old movie or cartoon—leading me to toss and turn in search of a comfortable position. And part of the problem was the movements of the baby, who was clearly tossing and turning himself.
A month ago I was describing this baby’s movements as a gyroscope, spinning internally in a rhythm that was out of sync with my external movements. But at 28 weeks (and officially third trimester!), this baby feels like a child that could be born any day now, and quite possibly may already be planning his escape, seeking less cramped quarters. While I’ve always described the early movements of a baby in utero as feeling like a fantail goldfish, gracefully and slowly moving about, this baby has somehow grown into a sea monster, bumping those bony Knauer knees and elbows in three directions at once.

When I lie on my side, as it is the only semi-comfortable position these days, it feels as if he’s practicing crawling, and the slippery sides of my uterus are like a treadmill that he keeps him crawling and crawling in place. I wish that I had a glass panel in my torso so I could watch his movements, for I am sure I would see him doing a full body stretch at times, his toes pointed down, his arms over his head and taking a big yawn. (Sleep, little one, you’re not missing anything yet.)
To be clear, these are not complaints, merely observations. Each movement is a precious reassurance that this baby is alive and kicking, literally.
We have not settled on a name yet for Baby Boy Knauer #2, which is kind of funny, because Josh and I are full of great names. It’s the committing to a name, for quite possibly our last child, that is hard. Personally, I don’t want to give up the brainstorming, comparing, and trying-on of names yet because it’s so fun. What if we don’t get to do this again?
While my little bruiser pummeled me from inside as I tried to nap, I tried to think of what kind of name would fit a child that I feel is going to be so big and clearly strong. As of now, I feel that his “spirit animal” would be a bull dog. Perhaps he will not have Josh’s thin, tall frame, as Rye seems to have acquired, but may rather receive my family’s squatter, but strong shape. If you think you know what your child is going to look like, would that influence your name choice? (Note, I don’t believe in “spirit animals” as a spiritual thing, but as a pop culture concept, the idea makes me laugh.)
For a while I was nicknaming him “Maximus,” which clearly means “large” but is also the middle name of Haloti Maximus Ngata, son of former Ravens defense player Haloti Ngata, who was delivered by one of the doctors at my ob/gyn practice. I know this because they have a birth announcement with the baby’s name and photo (no kidding, he was huge) on one of their bulletin boards. Josh and Rye call the baby “Toot-Toot,” which is Rye’s suggestion for a baby name, with “toot” meaning fart in our house. Yeah, classic big brother rank already asserting itself.
No surprise, but neither name is on our actual list. But now I am trying to think of other bulldog-like names. Brutus? No, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Josh would like that one (his list has previously included other Roman names, like Octavius and Augustus). Kingsley? I like it as a nod to Wes Anderson’s “The Life Aquatic,” but would not seriously want to name our child Kingsley. Before this pregnancy Josh and I had considered the name Royal, also from Wes Anderson and “The Royal Tenenbaums,” but we tossed it because we knew everyone would call our sons “Rye and Roy,” and “Roy” is not as charming (or regal) as Royal.
I think I may need to just wait until we see this baby and see what name feels best. Not that I think I’ll be able to predict his adult body shape by what he looks like in the first few hours of life (Josh was a gigantic baby himself, and look how he turned out), but without the perfect name clicking right now, I’m leaving the options open.
And as for my own body, I will be excited when I get my normal body shape back (see above description of feeling like I’m wearing a barrel for a shirt). I once had a student in youth group who said she classified everyone’s body type as either a noodle or a marshmallow. I stupidly asked which one I was, and she replied marshmallow. Granted, I was probably 7 pounds heavier than I wanted to be at the time and was wearing my knee-length puffer coat which Josh lovingly calls my “homeless coat,” so I probably did look like a marshmallow. My feelings weren’t hurt. It wasn’t a dig, merely an answer to how I would be classified in her system. I knew I wasn’t the noodle; it was stupid to ask. My response took some time; I don’t remember if I came up with it later that night or waited until I saw her the next week, but I proposed a third category: the Coke bottle. Now I am truly a marshmallow, and oh how I long to be a Coke bottle again. Not even for vanity reasons. I want to be able to walk faster than 3 miles an hour on the treadmill, and to get out of bed without an awkward roll that requires a freeze once I land on my feet to regain my balance. I want to be able to reach the cereal in our upper cabinet without having to stand sideways to avoid the countertop digging into my bump. And sleep, oh how I miss a good night of sleep.
Before this pregnancy, I was 1.5 pounds from my ideal weight. Scratch that—make that my ideal 35-year-old weight. Without divulging the target number, I’ll just say that without working my butt off, I tend to be 5 to 7 pounds over that number. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but you try being 5’1/2”. Every bit shows. Particularly when you’re letting it slide.
I’ve put on about 20 pounds so far this pregnancy, and there’s 12 weeks left (or maybe 11, fingers crossed), and supposedly at the end you and the baby put the weight on the fastest. But with Rye, I put the weight on the fastest in the middle and then slowed down toward the end. Plus my last two months will be summer, and I have a hard enough time wanting to eat when it’s hot out and I’m not pregnant and don’t have a baby taking up so much of my stomach and lung space.
But I don’t really care about the weight so much as my shape. And I know I’ll get it back, and that it will take a while. I lost my Rye pregnancy weight, all 35 pounds of it, in 5 months, but it took another 6 months or so before I was truly my “shape” again. It’s even kind of amazing that our bodies can go back to what they once were. I’ve heard the second time it’s even harder to lose the weight, but I’m willing to take on the challenge. I just need Rye and Toot-Toot to let me sleep enough to have enough energy to push it at the gym. 

Josh and I on Christmas 2012, when I was about 30 weeks pregnant.

Josh and I today, at 28.5 weeks pregnant. Since this is a selfie,
there is a little distortion, but I think they're pretty close.

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