|The 29 Week Belly|
Now at thirty weeks of pregnancy, my mid-section has swelled to the size and shape of a basketball growing straight out of my abdomen, and maintains a similar firmness. This comes as a surprise to me. I am not sure what I expected, but something along the lines of Santa Claus’ “jiggling bowlful of jelly” fits. I suppose that previous bouts of abdo-pudge were all I could use to imagine what a pregnant belly might actually resemble, which is certainly not the case. The belly is fairly solid, neither bouncing nor jiggling, and does not slouch in muffin-top form when strapped into my seat belt or when I sit down. While running, the belly stays where it is supposed to, entering the world a foot ahead of me, making only two things different from my pre-pregnancy jogs:
1) My gait has changed from “Powerful woman conquers the miles” to “Here I come trying not to spill hot liquid,” and
2) Occasionally, a half-moon of flesh appears at my waistband, because my running shirts no longer adequately cover my burgeoning belly.
3) Sometimes I have to make a detour under the bridge to pee, because that takes up 20% of my time these days.
“Hey honey,” I ask, belly revealing itself in pasty crescents while I hoist 15-pound barbells in a military press, “do I look like white trash?”
“Yup,” he answers, with zero hesitation.
Furthermore, nobody allows me to do so much as push a student desk into a corner, because of my “delicate condition.” I am advised not to go places or make long drives alone lest I suddenly become completely unable to control the workings of my body and spontaneously rupture my uterus, killing my infant. My breasts occasionally leave miniature sequins of colostrum crust inside my brassieres (none of which I’ve needed to replace with larger sizes, darn it all). I’m also getting used to strangers feeling entitled to touching my stomach, which is about as welcome as my random belching of gases that simultaneously taste of chocolate no-bake cookies and bacon, when I haven’t eaten either of those things. Yum.
Yet the most fascinating thing that has occurred during this pregnancy is the constancy with which people inquire whether I am “keeping up with my Kegels.”
|To help you remember: Kegel like Bagel|
“Umm… what?” I typically reply. “Do you really want to know that?”
“You know,” says Shere, the instructor of our Bradley birth class, “it’s not Kegel like eagle, as everyone seems to think. It’s Kegel like bagel.” All I can think about is how the poor schmuck’s family members feel now that their surname legacy is tied up in the tightening and releasing of the pelvic floor.
Let’s be honest. I didn’t think Kegeling was necessary. After all, for what other purpose do I use that muscle besides preventing urination on the daily commute? I seem to do that a lot, especially these days, so I thought it was enough. But then, it happened.
I sneezed my typical, violent sneeze, scaring the bejeebers out of my husband, and . . .
“Oh no!” I cried from the kitchen.
“What?” he called.
“I just peed in my pants a little bit when I sneezed!”
“Ha ha ha ha!” he guffawed.
So did I. It was pretty funny! I mean, how often does a healthy, relatively young person sneeze such a forceful sneeze that she pees? So silly.
The same day, a friend posted a video on her Facebook page entitled “I’m Pregnant and I Know It,” featuring a very pregnant young woman dancing in a home-made music video, the lyrics of which listed the trials of pregnancy. It was pretty amusing, especially the following line: “I pee my pants when I sneeze, and I’m so afraid to blow it.” Oh how I laughed at that! So true, I thought! Ha ha!
Then it happened to me again. W. . . T. . . F!
“It’s not a big deal,” husband said. “I’m sure it’s normal.”
I asked my Birth & Wellness Center midwife about this in a text message, because I was too embarrassed to phone her and admit to it. (I’ll bet the message monitors at Sprint got a kick out of that one.) She agreed with husband, saying, “It is not all that uncommon in pregnancy.”
The problem was that it wasn’t normal for me. What if I sneezed at work, and didn’t have a change of clothes in the immediate vicinity? Would I be reduced to uncomfortably bunching up hand towels a la junior high females carried off by surprise on the crimson tide? Did I need to start carrying around a fresh pack of underpants for the rest of my pregnancy, everywhere I went?
So, I started Kegeling, beginning with the time between street signs and billboards on my morning commute. I joined a pre-natal yoga class during which the instructor tells us to “tighten” ourselves, bringing “the elevator from the basement up to floor one,” then two, then three, and so on, feeling our bodies “lift our babies up,” imagining our babies “are enjoying the ride,” and releasing on cue. I know my eyes are supposed to be closed, but I can’t help looking around. Yes, it’s weird. I’m sitting in a room full of women who are motionless and making only the sounds of deep breathing, yet we are all Kegeling.
With all this Kegel talk, one begins to wonder: Just how many People are Kegeling? Right now? Have you ever seen a person Kegeling? I bet you have, but you didn’t know it. That’s because people who are Kegeling look like this:
And yes, even this: