I suspected I was pregnant with my fourth child even before the little ritual with peeing on the stick for two reasons. Reason 1: It is not normal to fall asleep in the (parked) car in the carpool line. Reason 2: It is not normal to think that dipping chocolate covered pretzels in hot sriracha sauce would constitute a tasty snack. Well, okay, both of those reasons are “normal” behavior–normal behavior for a woman who is pregnant, that is.
Food is a touchstone of pregnancy. It’s not only because a pregnant woman has to think of the developing child in her womb as she chooses what to eat, but also because those “pregnancy cravings” are very real. Trader Joe’s trips, normally a comparatively inexpensive supermarket trip to stock up on fresh vegetables, have become a veritable minefield of lethal snacks. There is definitely someone pregnant working in product development for that store (chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels, exhibit A), and they prey on my dramatic pregnant appetites.
The problem is balance. As you know, I was pregnant with my third child fairly recently, and gave birth just last July. Now I’m due in October. Back to back pregnancies mean back to back joy. Unfortunately, they also mean a difficult relationship with food.
I realize I’m one of the lucky ones–plenty of people have food-related issues in their adolescence and onward, after all. I’m just starting now. I’ve always been rather fond of food. It’s tasty.
But now, as I watch the formerly gorgeous Betty Draper engage in a tormented love affair with Reddi Whip on Mad Men, I feel my stomach turn. For those who don’t watch the show, Betty, the protagonist Don Draper’s first wife, is played by January Jones and in previous episodes was nothing short of a Grace Kelly lookalike. Now, the character has settled into her second marriage, her couch, and the semi-dowdy outfits of a suburban matron, replete with tweed coats and pearls. She is trying desperately to control her problematic relationship to food through Weight Watchers and portion control. It’s slow going.
I hate the Betty Draper plot line and every time she is on, I can’t wait for her to get off my screen. And I wonder if it’s not just that she’s a self-absorbed, comparatively uninteresting character, but also that the plotline hits a little too close to home.
Yes, I know, there is a difference between being “pregnant” and being “fat.” “Pregnant” allows you a degree of leeway that our society won’t let you otherwise. After all, both Ben and Jerry are very happy about your bringing new life into the world.
But when you’ve had two pregnancies with a break of only five months in between, like me, you get a little worried. I didn’t gain too much superfluous weight with the last pregnancy. I felt and looked good, all things considered. But in those five months, I didn’t lose that little bit of extra weight entirely either. I was only starting to feel comfortable in non-maternity pants when I got the news that it was back to the elastic waistband for me.
On the scale of problems, this is a small one. But I don’t want it to become a big one. So I go to the gym every day, not because I particularly want to, but because I feel I have to, in order to stay on the right side of healthy and fit. Or, if we’re being less diplomatic, I’m doing “damage control.”
I like food far too much to develop some sort of weird pregnancy-harming eating disorder, don’t worry–but I wouldn’t mind some guidance toward delicious ways of eating healthier while! Any and all ideas/suggestions/recipes/cookbooks welcome…as well as tips on how you made it out of your postpartum maternity pants. It never hurts to think ahead. And someday, I aspire to wearing a pair of pants that need to be zipped up. Someday.