So, to talk about this, I have to preface the conversation with some of my own issues. I am short and curvy, and by curvy, I mean I’m all tits and ass and softness. I have big boobs, big hips, a relatively narrow waist, a great ass and a big soft belly. This is my shape. This was my shape when I was in high school and swam 5-8 times a week. This was my shape when I didn’t do any form of exercise for months as my dad was dying. This is the way I am. My weight’s been fairly stable since high school. Before getting pregnant, I only weighed 20 pounds more than the lowest number I hit post-pubescent, which was while basically starving myself on the cabbage soup diet. (A banana and cup of soup do not make a full day food intake to me.) I work out 3-5 times a week, not to become thin, but to be healthy and strong and bendy, and because I have long found that exercise endorphins are best for preventing the depressive episodes I am predisposed to suffer. I muscle easily and bulkily, and have to work to make sure I tone instead of bulking. (One summer, I worked a labour job involving setting up 20’x20′ steel tents. I had sculpted biceps 12 inches in circumference by the end. Buff for sure, but bigger than I prefer to be. Most women don’t muscle like that, and can easily use free weights heavier than I am comfortable using.)
I like my body. I don’t necessarily love my belly or my inner thighs, but I don’t hate them, or hate myself for having them. I accept that I come from a long line of peasants, and that I have a body for field labour. I will never be thin. I could be thinner, I’m sure, if I devoted myself to a low calorie diet and upped the exercise, but I choose not to. I prefer to live in my body and do my best to eat my veggies and lean proteins and to not deny myself that cookie, if I want one. I rarely want to eat more than two, and I exercise in part to allow myself small pleasures without needing to debate them with myself. By not worrying about my body too much, it frees up my brain for books and hockey and oil painting and furniture repair and whatever else I’m interested in that week. I find this freeing, and I’m happy with my choices.
I have a lot of trouble with the BMI system, and I am not alone. And not just because according to the math, I’m either overweight or obese, depending on a mild weight flux. Which, fuck off, random 19th century Belgian mathematician. I refuse to alter my beliefs for a chart that fails to take into account my big bones and heavily muscled body. I eat well enough, I exercise constantly, and am strong enough to do anything I decide I want to, from those years of competitive swimming and mountain climbing and snowboarding to the heavy lifting that furniture restoration and basement renovations require. (“Stand here and hold up this full sheet of gyp rock while I screw it in.” The weak need not apply.) I can execute skull crushers and lateral raises with free weights and maintain perfect form. When I did regular yoga, I could hold a 7 minute head stand. Even pregnant, I can execute a well aligned trikonasana and gaze at the ceiling.
My defensiveness could go on, but suffice it to say, my body does what I want it to, and I am comfortable with my soft belly as a trade off for living the life I want.
So, now I’m pregnant. I am expected to gain weight. According to the govenment, if I’m only overweight, I should gain between 15 – 25 pounds, and if I’m obese, I should gain 11 – 20 pounds. I’ve gain, in six months, um, well. Very little. Depending on the accuracy of my 15 year old digital scale (questionable at best), I have put on 4.5 pounds. Which sounds good, right? But I’ve been a little worried, because as the website says, “Gaining too little weight during pregnancy can also negatively affect fetal growth and increase the risk of pre-term delivery.” And no one wants that! I haven’t modified my eating habits too much – eating when I am hungry, stopping when I’m full, and snacking lightly between meals. (Staved off first trimester nausea and seems to help with the current heartburn.) I still exercise a lot. But still, I’m at the doctor’s, so I may as well ask, right? (Side note – I thought I would be followed by my family doctor the whole time, but I’ve been sent to a low risk maternity clinic, where I seem to see a different doctor each time, for a total of 5 minutes each time. I miss my lovely family doctor, who I have a pleasant and trusting relationship with. She also told me to gain 15-25, knowing my actual weight and lifestyle and having seen me naked.) So I ask this new doctor if it’s okay that I’ve gained so little weight in almost 6 months.
She looks at me, says “well, you are pretty overweight, so you should gain less than 11 pounds, so that when you’re done, you’ll be in better shape than when you started, and that would be good for you” and then left. Seriously. I was glad that David was in the room so I confirm that had just happened. I guess my surprise was because this woman I’d met 4 minutes early judged everything about this conversation from looking at 6 month pregnant me. Sitting down with a prominent belly bump that now solely screams pregnant – I’m long past that ‘kind of chubbier than normal’ look I’d been rocking for a while. It pissed me off a lot – I think because it’s the first time in my life I’ve ever had a medical question waved off due to my weight. I’m aware this is a common problem – there are websites devoted to the issue – but it’s never happened to me. And hey, even if I am that fat, she could have handled it better. “So, are you eating well? Exercising? In that case, this is clearly your body is doing what it needs to do, so don’t worry about. Stay focused on eating well and don’t worry about the numbers.” And done.
I am going with midwife care if I do this again.