149 days since I learned I was pregnant. 115 days since we learned we were expecting twins. And no more than 95 days until the babies are here.
24 weeks means officially six months, regardless of whether you’re going by lunar or calendar months. This is the key month of viability, according to my doctor. At 24 weeks pregnant with twins, we’re looking at a 30% survival rate. By 28 weeks, we’re up to 80%, though we would certainly still face some serious hurdles.
Moms-to-be in my online birth club are becoming moms and sharing pictures of their teeny, tiny pre-term babies. Casual acquaintances are freely touching my belly. I have now added a lovely maternity support belt to my daily wardrobe. Strangers smile at my stomach and then look up at me with a dopey grin. The guest room is well on its way to becoming a nursery. I feel the babies moving every day, multiple times a day – and sometimes I can even see their movements.
In other words, things are getting really real.
In my prenatal yoga class, the instructor said something this week that really resonated with me. At the beginning of class, when we were grounding ourselves and setting our intentions, she said, “You’ve never been as strong as you are right now.”
It made me pause and think. I’ve spent most of my life being aware of my weight and my body. I’ve dieted – Weight Watchers, South Beach, Wheat Belly, self-created plans. I’ve worked out, even when I didn’t want to – boot camps, yoga, swimming, Pilates, sprint triathlons, and even a half-marathon. I’ve purged my kitchen of snack foods – my mom once wondered where we kept all our soda, crackers, chips and cookies – and was surprised when I told her we didn’t keep any in the house. And still despite my best efforts to take care of myself, I always struggled with my weight, with my appearance, with my body image.
And yet, I learned – really, what I am learning – is that those efforts are paying off. Not in the way I always hoped they would, with the numbers on the scale going down. For the first time in my life, while the scale is going up, I’m looking at my health beyond those three numbers. And I’m realizing: My body is taking care of me.
My body – and these sweet little girls – have been very kind to me for the last six months. My blood pressure is staying low and steady. My heart rate is healthy. My skin is staying pretty clear. I’m not experiencing much swelling. (Though I can’t wear my engagement ring, but my wedding band still fits!) My feet are still the same size that they were six months ago.
And, in addition to all these lack-of-symptoms that I’m so grateful for, my body is accomplishing something tremendous. My body is growing TWO humans. At 24 weeks, it’s growing two little, bitty brains, which will help the babies learn and love and grow. It’s developing their taste buds, so the babies will be able to taste sweet strawberries, pucker at lemons, and, in a few years, drool over their dad’s perfectly grilled burgers. Their lungs are developing, and while skin is still thin and translucent, it’s there – protecting them. Their hearts are beating. They’re elbowing each other and fighting for space. They’re hiccuping. They’re sleeping and growing and packing on sweet little baby chub. My body is producing two little humans – all while I’m going about my day – walking Chloe in the morning (most of the time), sitting in traffic on the way to work, talking with coworkers, crossing off things on my to-do list, adding adorable, girly things to our registry, attempting to crochet, and reading. My body is doing all of this, while also keeping me alive.
The possibility of bed rest looms, and it terrifies me. I want to save my time off for being with the girls – cuddling with them, soothing them, rocking them to sleep, watching them discover their world – not exiled to my bed, resting for a short eternity on my left side with HGTV marathons for entertainment. But Bryan and I were talking the other day about it, and he helped me by pointing out that even if I start swelling, even if my joints become stiff and achy, even if walking up a flight of stairs becomes a joke and prenatal yoga becomes a distant memory, even if I’m on bed rest for the last part of my pregnancy, I’ve had six really good months. And for that, and for my baby girls’ continued health, I am so grateful to my body. For the first time in a long time, I can say I’m grateful for my body.
They say motherhood changes you in more ways than you can count. If this feeling of peace and appreciation for my physical being is one of those changes, I’m already a lucky mama.
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