Everyone seems to want to know one thing lately: Am I ready for the baby? The short answer is: NO.
I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed and stressed because there is still so much to do before he arrives. My list of things that need doing:
- buy baby stuff (all we have are the carseat, stroller, and as of today, a dresser)
- upgrade our life insurance
- get disability insurance (in my mind, this will mean we never need it)
- set up a trust for our assets (our wills are outdated and a trust is a better option for us now)
- a million other things that would totally bore you if I listed them out
In addition to feeling like where will I ever find the time/energy to get on top of things in the next 5 weeks, I’m also feeling like a big (or possibly small, depending on how you look at it) failure because I only gained .7 pounds in the last two weeks. I forgot to chant “Gain weight! Gain weight!” to myself when I was eating and look what happened. I knew I was not consuming enough food, but I naively thought I was doing at least a little better in terms of caloric intake than I had previously. The increase in the size of my belly helped give me a false sense of security; it is so much larger than it was two weeks ago that I was sure I’d put on the 2 pounds Michele had ordered me to gain. Turns out my belly is bigger because the baby has packed on some serious weight (estimate is around 1.5 lbs for him over the past 2 weeks) and is still growing fabulously. That fact coupled with the fact that I basically didn’t gain anything is really bad news. Really bad news made worse by the discovery of ketones in my urine. I know you read this site because you want to know about my urine, so I’m going to tell you all about it. Ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of fatty tissue. Ketones in the urine basically means that fatty tissue is being broken down in the body. In my case, it means that I am not taking in enough calories for both me and the baby, so he is breaking down my body to get what he needs. Thank god babies are efficient parasites, and that mine seems to be especially efficient, but man, this sucks.
I think it’s important to take a minute here to explain why this lack of weight gain is so bad, especially since we are conditioned to think that being thin, even in pregnancy, is like the greatest thing ever. Women need to store fat during pregnancy for two reasons: 1) to keep up their energy level, and 2) because they will really need it for breastfeeding. Caloric needs for breastfeeding women are even higher than for pregnant women (an extra 600 calories a day compared to 300 per day for preggies). It’s nearly impossible for most breastfeeding moms to get enough calories for two reasons: 1) that’s a lot of extra calories, and 2) they’re busy taking care of their new babies. This is why breastfeeding is directly related to losing the baby weight–the baby literally eats it away! Anyway, if a woman doesn’t store enough fat during pregnancy she will feel more tired both during pregnancy and after the baby’s born, and she may also run into problems with her milk supply. The body needs energy to produce milk, and those pregnancy fat stores are a great source of energy. If a breastfeeding mom isn’t taking in all the calories needed to sustain her and support milk production, her body can rely on fat stores to help out. Since we’ve already discussed how hard it is to actually consume the requisite amount of calories for breastfeeding, it’s easy to see how low fat stores can become a real problem for a breastfeeding mom.
But wait, it gets better! In addition to the overall lack of calories in my diet, a review of my diet records revealed that I don’t eat anywhere near as great as I thought I did. Too much fruit (Hello, sugar! Michele’s words were, “Girl, you are begging for a yeast infection.”), and nowhere near enough protein and fat. I hadn’t really looked at my diet records but when we went over them I was pretty horrified. I ate a lot better before I was pregnant than I do now. I can blame several things for this, including the heat (saps my energy so that eating well is just too much damn effort, also makes me only want to eat fruit or other cold/wet things like popsicles), general third trimester fatigue, pickiness, and rigid ideas about food and eating habits. To my detriment, I am one of those people who will often just not eat if the available foods either don’t match up with my appetite in that moment or don’t satisfy my requirements for what I feel I should be eating.
I’ve realized now that all the old rules don’t apply anymore. I think I’ve mentioned menu planning on this site before; we plan our lunches and dinners every week and then shop based on the meals we’re fixing. This is not a flawed strategy in itself, but my ideas about how the menu should be constructed are in need of major revision. I used to feel that we should alternate carnivorous days and vegetarian days for both variety and budgetary reasons. At this point, having 2-3 vegetarian days a week is just a dumb idea. I need the protein, fat, and calories that come from eating a lot of animal foods on a daily basis. Vegetarians may wish to argue this point. True, vegetables have protein. But the fact is, animal foods have more (a lot more), and are also a better source of fat and calories overall. And since I’m certainly in no danger of overloading on protein, fat, or calories, I think it makes sense to base my diet on the densest sources of these nutrients. Part of this strategy has been to throw my dairy restrictions out the window. I’m sensitive, so this means I now suffer with more congestion than when I wasn’t eating dairy products, but it’s worth it to get the protein, fat, and calories. Generally speaking, I used to try so hard to do everything “right” that I made things very difficult. I need to come to grips with the fact that cooking every single thing from scratch for every meal is not practical and does me more harm than good when I opt to just not eat or to eat something like an apple or a handful of tortilla chips instead of a more nutrient-dense food because of the work involved in preparing the nutrient-dense food.
All of this is to say: I need to step it up, big time. I could go on about the specifics, but really I just need to stop kidding myself and start making my diet my #1 priority. I’ve got 5 weeks until my due date, which is an estimate, I know, but I am really hoping to keep this bun in the oven at least that long so that I have a chance to gain as much weight as possible. My goal is 10 pounds over the next 5 weeks…