Week 32: On the Feeling of Splitting Open
by Sharon Tjaden-Glass
Every two weeks for the past six weeks, I have a moment of panic at the end of the day.
Under the increasing growth and pressure of this baby, I feel like my belly is on the cusp of splitting wide open.
Right. Down. The middle.
Imagine that a balloon is slowly inflating inside your belly over seven months. Week by week, you gradually grow and adjust. And then at eight months, someone opens the helium valve on full blast. Every day, the pressure increases and you feel quite certain that this is going to be the day that your muscles, your skin, everything, splits wide open.
From weeks 30 until the end of this pregnancy, this baby will increase one-half of a pound every week.
Right now, the baby is about 4 pounds.
And I’m feeling it.
This is my pregnancy wall. This is the point when the physical reality of being pregnancy never escapes my mind. I can’t sit comfortably. I can’t stand comfortably. I can’t sleep comfortably.
If I have to lean over to pick something up or put something away, I stop to think about how I’m going to do it.
I think about how I’m going to manage to tie my shoes.
I perform new acrobatics to shave my legs.
I look down at the scale, imagining that I’ve certainly gained at least 50 pounds. Maybe 80 pounds. Every part of me has expanded and grown. And for how much pressure I feel and how hard it is to move at this point, it has to be at least 50 pounds.
But it’s only 34 pounds.
I can almost hear this baby laughing at me.
Haha! This is my turf now, sucker! Move out of my way!
I turned 35 years old on Thanksgiving Day this year. I had my first child when I was 31 years old. That was just a few years ago, but there is a stark difference in how my body is handling this pregnancy. This time, I tire much more easily and earlier in the day. The whole thing is really wearing me out.
My friend, Cate, sent me a link to Laura Vanderkam’s blog post about fertility and aging. In her post, she talks about the trend of women freezing their eggs, so they can have kids in their 40s.
Which sounds like a good idea… Until you realize, oh yeah, you’re having a baby when you’re 40.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to poo-poo advances in medical science or the choice to wait longer to have kids. I’m just being realistic about how grueling pregnancy can be on a healthy 30-year-old body, not to mention a healthy 40-year-old body.
But there is good news.
Relief from pregnancy discomfort has come from a tried-and-true source this time.
Believe it or not, I’m still walking/jogging in the morning. (Everything’s good at the beginning of the day. It’s at the end of the day that I’m really struggling.) If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever be jogging while eight months pregnant, I’m sure I would have laughed in your face.
But it feels cleansing, being outside early in the morning, the world still quiet. Even if it’s cold. It’s a good time to press reset on life. Before work. Before the news.
And bonus: pregnancy turns you into a calorie-burning machine.
I can burn 350 calories just by walking 2 miles in the morning.
Not that any of this leads to weight loss…
Or a decreasing of pressure…
But, still, there’s a psychological satisfaction in seeing those numbers…
I’m so tight. Just. Tight. Everywhere.