Tag Archives: body image

End of the second trimester

28 weeks, 28 week bump, second trimester bump

28 weeks

Doctor’s orders – I have been relegated to bed. Well, doctor’s and Wesley’s and just for the afternoon. We had a scan last week (all looking good. Bubble at ~50th percentile, currently no polyhydramnios, movement as expected but still transverse) and I mentioned I was having ‘rather a lot of Braxton Hicks, but this is normal, right?’. The doctor said no, nothing too concerning, but it was soon. We talked about the importance of rest (the nurse said ‘Are you still working?’ – Girlfriend, this is the US. I’ll be working in labor and again soon after!) and carried on with the scan. While scanning the nurse noticed how strong and how frequent my Braxton Hicks were, and worried a little more. She asked if I was a ‘Type A’ person and when Wes responded to the affirmative (why do I ever think it will  be a good idea to take him with me??) a lengthy lecture ensued on how how Type A people are problems and how they don’t relax enough and how the house should just be left – I was to work, but then at the end of the work day I was to rest.

28 week scan; second trimester scan

Alien baby. AKA one of those pictures parents think is adorable and the rest of the world can’t make out / get scared by.

Hello? I have a toddler. And a large house with a garden. That has a toddler in it. And I’m nesting. With a toddler. Did I mention I had a toddler? They don’t tend to respond well to ‘hey, Mom is tired, why don’t you just open yourself a bag of crisps for dinner and sit quietly? Perhaps you could bath yourself and put yourself to bed before, say, 8?”, Apart from the crisps part. Sam would happily comply with that.

Why I don't rest. This is him taking his scooter up the stairs of the water slide.

Why I don’t rest. This is him taking his scooter up the stairs of the water slide.

Anyway, Wes came back from getting the car detailed to find me following up 3 hysterical texts with a babbling about how we were never going to get the house in order for the cleaner coming. He looked around at 2 previously horrendous and now immaculate rooms (including a throughly cleaned and organized larder) and glanced regretfully down at his new fish purchases, seeing his Sunday of leisure fly away before his eyes. “You’ve been working hard haven’t you?”. “Yes! Of course! It’s never going to get done!”. He sighed. “OK, here is the deal. We set a timer for an hour, you go to bed for an hour, and I clear up. At the end of the hour, if you still think the house won’t be ready you can get back after it”. Seemed fair enough, so here I am in bed.

The second half of the second trimester has been way better. My exhaustion has eased somewhat and I can do some work and run the house a little. I don’t feel like I have the ‘flu 24/7. My nausea is minimized. I have found changing my diet up a bit has helped – adding in more protein, reducing fat, and lots of lots of salads, although I still think I have too much caffeine. I have also been seeing a great chiropractor who has made a big difference to my back pain. The heat (100 degrees and counting) and humidity is a challenge, but hey, that’s what air conditioning and pools are for, right? I am even considering finding time to go back to the gym as I am quite disappointed by how inactive I have been this pregnancy.

37 weeks with Sam

37 weeks with Sam

27 week bump second baby

27 weeks with Bubble









I have suddenly grown – however. I walked passed a mirror with no top on the other day was did a double take – I am pretty sure I look quite like I did at 37 weeks with Sam. I wouldn’t mid, but with 12 more to go I am worried about how far this is going to go (!). Cliche though it is someone *actually* asked me the other day “how many are in there”. Bloody cheek! For those that care, I have gained ~15 lbs which is not bad for 28 weeks, so I’m not worried about it. Just generally disconcerted and surprised by the number of spaces I can no longer squeeze through.

And, I am oscillating between tearful sadness that this will be my last child, and my last pregnancy (Wes decrees it is so) and my dream of 3 children is ending soon, and cold, soul gripping fear at how we will manage with 2. I really do go between the two. I sit here in bed and think about how I always wanted 3 children, how I pictured them (although I pictured 2 older boys, 2 years apart and then a little girl 4 years later… so it was never going to be anyway), how I always thought it would be that way… And then I think about the practicalities of how it can take 2 of us to manage him at a party, and how hectic the mornings can get, and I wonder how we are going to deal with 2 in these situations. Of course we will, and many do, and many do with twins, triplets and more. But, you know, there is still some trepidation.

sick toddler 2 year old

It’s not always like this you know

Plus, it is nice to think about clearing out all the crap you have to store (fits with my crazy nesting instinct). We can slowly starting giving away / donating the car seats, bouncers, pack n plays, endless clothes etc. I am starting to think about how it will be nice to have the time and motivation to get fit again (a looooong way down the line, I am sure, and I am OK with that). And how I am slowly regaining my sense of me 2.5 years into Sam’s life (loving make-up, trying to hair styles, making some vague nod to fashion, even wearing – gasp – perfume), but I know it will go in the haze of postpartum life in a body that doesn’t feel mine so it will be nice to eventually get that back (again, a  long way down the road, I am sure). It’s positive, it’s just not how I pictured it.

Roll on the third trimester! These next 12 (I hope 12!) weeks will fly by, and I pray I will have some time to savor them too.

EDIT: OH MY. Lest anyone doubt I am bigger this time around and want to say ‘it is all in your mind’; this is how I looked at 29 weeks with Sam:

29 weeks with Sam

29 weeks with Sam









Methinks the “secret” that I wasn’t very good about maintaining an active lifestyle between kiddos is out ;-). Oh well, I like to think I made better hair decisions this time around at least.


Why I love the (hashtag) Royal Baby & a special milestone for me and Sam

I am so excited Prince George has made a safe and healthy entrance into the world. I read some of my American friends criticizing the news (and one British) and having ‘mixed emotions’ about what the monarchy stood for. Although I may be a noisy political advocate for many causes, this was not a political cause for me.


I guess at the heart of everything, I do not have an intrinsic problem with the monarchy. They return more money to Britain than they cost, they don’t interfere with everyday life, but they do try to do some decent charity work without too many bells and whistles (LOVE Prince Charles quiet support of organic farming, and much as I did not like Diana, she did amazing work to remove a lot of stigma from HIV patients). And, all countries need their identity; the monarchy is part of ours and if not something to be proud of, to me, not something to be particularly ashamed of.

So, for me, as my heckles do not get raised by the mention of the monarchy, the Royal Baby story was just a story about a young couple, who fell in love, and had a baby. All the criticisms: they didn’t swaddle properly! She came out after only 12 hours! She has a manicure! She can’t nurse in that dress! She showed her belly! All those bitchy little comments just reminded me so vividly of my first few days (months?) as a parent.

Swaddle fail

Swaddle fail

I failed utterly, utterly, at swaddling, despite great instruction from my Bradley Method teacher, AND getting the nurses to show us how to do it several times in hospital AND having step-by-step diagrams in ‘The Happiest Baby on The Block’. I just said: Thank goodness for ‘swaddleme’s [and for the friend who bought me three].

Also failing at using a Swaddleme. Oh well.

Also failing at using a Swaddleme. Oh well.

I was utterly confident I could see people immediately, even though I was clearly very sick, and visitors were not allowed in ICU anyway. But I was on a great high – I was utterly in love with a new little human. I was convinced her was the cutest / most well-behaved / smartest baby ever, and I just wanted the world d to meet him.

What do you mean I am not ready for visitors? But I invited my colleagues over for cupcake (no... I really did...).

What do you mean I am not ready for visitors? But I invited my colleagues over for cupcakes (no… I really did…).

OK, I didn’t have a manicure, but as soon as I was able to unhook myself from my IV I scuttled off to bathroom and put make-up on (which in retrospect, because I was deathly pale and swollen from blood loss, just looked vaguely clown-like). Had I been able to have a full shower, you can bet your bottom dollar I would have had a blow-out (I got the straighteners out as soon as I got home).

Yes Lekki, you look awesome. Not deathly pale with clownlike levels of blusher at all. AT. ALL.

Yes Lekki, you look awesome. Not deathly pale with clown-like levels of blusher at all. AT. ALL.

Nursing clothes? Messed that up. I found my clothes were totally inappropriate for nursing, especially in those first few days when you haven’t got your technique down. Even when Wes went and bought me special nursing tops I got lanolin and milk all over them. C’est la vie.

Hoodies: Not awesome for nursing. Also: terrible swaddle (again).

Hoodies: Not awesome for nursing. Also: terrible swaddle (again).

And as for that belly? And the ‘Did Kate decide to show she was normal?’, “Did Kate purposely show her belly?’ question. While I applaud Kate for not getting into a girdle, I suspect she, like me, had no idea what people meant when they said ‘you’ll still look 6 months pregnant when you leave’. Seeing that I barely put on 4 lbs of non-baby weight, while I heard people say ‘take maternity clothes’, and I heard them tell me my belly would take weeks to go down, I was used to stories of Alex Curran leaving hospital in her skinny jeans, and I didn’t really think the ‘6 months pregnant belly’ would apply to me. Boy-oh-boy did it 🙂

When am I due? Oh, 7 days ago actually...

When am I due? Oh, 7 days ago actually…

They were not mistakes, they were just ‘learning to be a parent’ moves. They were just a reflection that nothing can really prepare you for EVERYTHING it is to suddenly have a brand new newborn. You can read books, you can visit friends, you can watch videos, but as soon as you have that little thing in your arms you realize you had NO IDEA what it is going to take.

And that is why I love the Royal Baby news: I guarantee that at this moment, Kate & Wills are not marveling over the heir to the throne, or thinking about the press, or planning their every move. They are completely and utterly absorbed in their new one, wondering how to be come parents, and blown away by how clever they are to have bought the cutest / most well-behaved / smartest baby ever [apart from mine] into the world.

Reliving that special time through them is wonderful. Tomorrow marks the exact number of days, since Sam’s birth, that reflect the time he was inside me (i.e. from ovulation to birth). I am fairly emotional about that, and hearing about wee Prince George just warms my heart and reminds me this is the best thing I have ever done.

Best. Baby. Ever. Fact.

Best. Baby. Ever. Fact.


Oh, and I am not proud of this, but we also didn’t get the car seat right:

Not a good way to strap the wee one in

Not a good way to strap the wee one in

Chest strap too low, head not properly supported, and in fact, should have had side impact protection (Sam was very small!). We’ll do better next time.

Who am I? Labels and ourselves.

Labeling theory in Psychiatry – in brief – states that people’s perception of others is coloured by the labels given to them by society, the perceiver or the perceived. Labeling theory was initially concerned with the effect of labeling someone as mentally ill, after Rosenhan’s 1973 study whereby 12 sane stooges got themselves admitted to a psychiatric hospital under the label of ‘mentally ill’, after complaining of hallucinations. Their task, after this, was to be released; a task that should be easy enough as they would simply have report to be free of hallucinations, and be ‘themselves’ – correct? Well, it was not the case. They failed to get spotted as ‘psuedopatients’ and had extensive medical reports of their ‘strange behaviour’. An example that always stuck in my mind was when one of the confederates was recording notes from being inside the institution, the psychiatric staff reported it as ‘strange writing behaviour’.

The point of the experiment was to show that the stooges’ behaviour was seen in a different light when they were labelled as ‘mentally ill’, and to raise awareness of the possible problems caused by the stigma that may be associated with mental illness. I have not kept up to speed with modern day labeling theory in scientific research, but I am aware that it is used in the diet and fitness literature to positive effect. Whether it is substantiated or not, Runner’s World has reported that if you are starting to learn to run, it can be beneficial to label yourself – to yourself and to others – as a ‘runner’. This will, apparently, help you stick to your new running plan, and help other encourage you.

I don’t know if Runner’s World is correct, but I have been thinking about labeling a lot recently – in terms of how we label ourselves. And how this can be a positive or negative thing. I moved to the US 24 months ago. Back then I was 118 lbs of skin and bone and hated sport. As a friend put it ‘you don’t have limbs, you have twigs’. I labelled myself as ‘skinny’ (skinny-fat maybe, but nonetheless, ‘skinny’). I didn’t eat carbs. I just didn’t. Once a month there would be a transgression (often alcohol fuelled), but otherwise I was strictly anti-carb. Another label. I was also bulimic. Not a label I wanted others to know, but a label nonetheless.

Then I got out of a very destructive relationship. I looked around and saw that I had moved continent on my own, been knocked back pretty hard in my personal life, but picked myself up and started again. I had established my own life far from home, far from my friends, in a very different culture. And I loved it! As I came out of a subservient position in my personal life, I began to think of myself as ‘mentally strong’, and along with a few other reasons, decided that this required a stronger body. I started weight training, I loved it, so I started body building. Nutrient timing, a strict cardio routine and heavy, heavy lifting ensued. Within 3 months I was regularly running 10Ks, bench pressing my body weight, squatting god-knows-what and I relabelled myself as ‘fit’ or ‘sporty’ and ‘a body builder’. I was 126 lbs of muscle.

Then… I don’t know quite what happened. I relaxed my diet. I started to really dig into my work, writing my first big grants, and pushing papers out. I became a Mum to little Walter who needed a lot of love and attention. I stopped lifting for some reason. I ran a bit, but not seriously. I did zumba and labelled it ‘cardio’. I got back into cooking and socializing. And I kept labeling myself as ‘fit’ and ‘thin’.

Until I had a wake up call. I went to England, where I could not wear endless floaty dresses (Brrrrrr….) and found my trousers could not get over my thighs (no exaggeration, I had to borrow clothes to fly home as none of mine could be put on!). I didn’t quite believe it was real, as it was not *me*. I was ultra fit! I was skinny! Sure – the dial on the scale had moved to 143 lbs (good grief) but that was muscle, right? I mean, muscle weighs more than fat? Everywhere I went, I found people to agree with me. ‘You don’t look any different’, they said, ‘You are so sporty’, ‘all that activity, you can’t have put on weight’, ‘it must be muscle, it is a body builders body!’. I believed it all, as it fit my labels I gave myself.

Then I spoke to another friend. He asked me how my trip to England was, and I said that I had had a wake-up call to having put on a lot of weight (I said it with a smile in a jolly manner). I was shocked at his response: he cheerfully replied ‘yup’. In the next sentence he said ‘you used to be so fit’. I crossly thought ‘I am fit’ and was shocked at his honesty. Then, later, I really thought about it. I am not super fit anymore – 5Ks are not always easy. I struggled to run 6 miles on Saturday, when timewise 1/2 marathons were completed before breakfast every other week – for real. I am not super skinny anymore. I am currently, to be honest, kinda chunky. So, I need to relabel myself, and not cling to labels that are not true – as my friend had accurately relabeled me.

Then I thought about it some more: how could someone who was a friend of mine say this?? How could they be so mean? Then it occurred to me: he used labels like ‘unfit’ (or just ‘not fit’ would be more accurate) and ‘heavier’ to mean exactly that: not fit and heavier. It didn’t have all the negative connotations I associated with these terms. I think (I hope) to my friend, I was exactly the same Lekki in terms of integrity, value, intelligence, interest, fun – in fact all ways – as I was when I was a muscle bound runner. I was just heavier and less fit – nothing more, and nothing less. He used the label to be exactly what it was: he did not become the psychiatric ward worker above who viewed me and my attributes through the lens of these labels. I am less fit and 25 lbs heavier, and to coin a Southern phrase: ‘It is what it is’ i.e. nothing more and nothing less.

So, I have rejigged my labels of myself, knowing that I want to change them, and I will.

I am, as of this moment:

-25 lbs heavier than when I arrived in the US
-2.5 dress sizes larger than when I arrived in the US
-Unable to run more than a 5K without stopping to walk
-Tired after 3 sets of 12 reps with 12 lb weights (really).

This helps me when I think ‘I don’t really have to lose weight to be as I was two years ago, I just need a crash diet to lose this water weight’ or when I think “Oh, I am fit, that was just a bad day – I need some more sleep!”. *IF* I want to be thin, and *IF* I want to be very fit, it is going to take some work.

But, that it is all it is. It has no bearing on the rest of me. And, I am also, as of late:

-A productive and devoted scientist
-Able to let go of controlling everything and enjoy life in the moment sometimes
-Able to look in the mirror, not like some aspects of what I see but not freak out and still see some things I do like
-Able to prioritize: I choose to let work / my puppy / my friends take precedence over my fitness and body sometimes

That being said, I am also capable of change. I am following a 1/2 marathon training plan, and the DAMY bikini body plan. In the next 12 weeks, I would like to get back to a size 8-10 (UK) and get somewhere near the weight I came to the US at. I would like to be able to run 10Ks as and when I like, and half marathons with some prep. And I will, but while I can’t: it is what it is. Nothing more and nothing less than that. I have more important (to me) things to judge myself by.