The Weight of Pregnancy (#234)

I love food. So do my siblings, probably because there wasn’t quite enough of it to go around when we were kids. Free Candy Night — i.e., Halloween — was my favorite holiday. I dreamed of being able to eat all the Little Debbie Snack Cakes I wanted.

Once I grew up and had money, though, I discovered that I could not, in fact, gorge on Little Debbie. Not if I wanted to fit into my work clothes. And if I wanted to fit into the skin-tight costumes for competitive dance? Hell, no.

Some people are blessed with the kind of metabolism that allows them to eat a lot, exercise moderately, and not gain weight.

These people are called men.

Yes, yes, I can hear Mr. Well Actually’s comment already: “It’s because men have more muscle mass. Maybe if you increased your muscle mass, you could eat more.”

Stifle, dude. The guys at my gym surreptitiously remove weights after I’ve done legs and triceps. It’s not that simple. Scientists regularly discover new facts about weight gain and obesity. It’s a complex issue, involving factors from epigenetics to gut bacteria to psychology.

Basically, my body is evolution’s answer to famine. I have a big, powerful peasant frame. It’s perfect for working in the fields, bearing a passel of kids, and tossing around millstones like Frisbees — all on very little food.

How do I know? In my twenties, my day involved a trip to the gym before work for weights. I went back to the gym at lunch to swim, and then back after work for the crosstrainer — unless I was on the dance floor practicing for 3-4 hours. My diet consisted of oatmeal, hardboiled eggs, canned chicken, a piece of pita bread, lettuce, tomatoes, an apple, and a protein bar. My big treat was a strawberry banana smoothie or a single piece of chocolate from See’s Candies.

The best thing about dance competitions was being able to eat pizza after spending 20 hours on the dance floor. Winning a plaque was nice, sure, but eating pizza? Divine.

Meanwhile, my partner and future husband complained that his pants were falling off him because he kept losing weight. “I even hit the all-night diner after practice and get a huge breakfast and pie,” he told me, “but I still can’t gain weight.”

Readers, I did not crush his instep with my Cuban heel. Applause, please.

When Andy and I gave up competitive dancing to get married and get a house, the pressure was off. We had an “all you can eat honeymoon” and had to wear sweatpants on the way home. My new husband was a great cook. Our married life was delicious. Despite trading in my dancing shoes for volleyball and dog-walking sneakers, I gained weight. But I didn’t mind. Not living on a restrictive diet was totally worth going up several sizes.

There were perks:

Women Friends at Parties: “Wah! I gained five pounds! Never eating again!”

Me: “Then the rest of these See’s Candies are mine, right?”

When I found out I was pregnant, I was all, “Whoo-hoo! Now I have an excuse to eat whatever I want and no one can side-eye me for taking all the chocolates!”

I was ready to pig out.

Until I started throwing up. I threw up a lot.

I lost weight.

Unlike one of my younger sisters, my vomiting wasn’t severe enough to be classified as hyperemesis gravidarum. (Little Sis had to go on the very serious anti-nausea meds chemotherapy patients get.) Most days, though, I was throwing up or felt like throwing up. Just brushing my teeth made me puke. I’d had one filling in my teeth before I got pregnant; I had five fillings after being pregnant.

My OB wasn’t too concerned about my initial weight loss. “As long as the baby keeps gaining weight,” she told me, “it’s okay if you lose some.”

My older sister, Judgmental Genius Doctor, concurred. “Oh, don’t worry, ideally you should gain thirty pounds or less while pregnant.”

“Yeah, but the first trimester is ending and I’ve only lost weight.”

“It’s fine, you were practically obese anyway, it’s good for you.”

“You know, if you weren’t three thousand miles away I would puke on you for that.”


The second trimester wasn’t any better. Andy prepared scrumptious meals, most of them with the meats he loved. When I fled the table, gagging over brie-stuffed steak, he sulked for an entire day. Andy eventually forgave me and made pulled pork. I threw up for an entire day.

He quit cooking. Instead, he’d call on his way home from work and ask, “What can you eat today?”

Sometimes I’d ask for a muffin. One day he brought me a bean and cheese burrito. I ate the whole thing and didn’t feel awful. I spent the next two months living on bean and cheese burritos.

Dr. Sis checked in at about six months. “Feel any better?”

“No! I got a cold and now the postnasal drip mucus is making me gag, which is making me puke, and I can’t take any good meds because it will hurt the baby and I can’t even brush my damned teeth,” I blubbered.

She advised me to try a nasal spray like Afrin, then asked, “How’s your weight?”

“Lost another two pounds, which is making the OB a little nervous.”

“Oh, you’re still fine. You really only need to gain twenty pounds or so.”

“Last time you said it was thirty!”

“I said ‘thirty pounds or less.’  Twenty is fine.”

“How much did you gain when you had your daughter?”

“Oops, pager, gotta go!”

When I was seven months pregnant, Andy and I drove to Utah and surprised my father for his birthday. Current Stepmother made reservations for the one fancy restaurant in town.

Andy expressed reservations about those reservations. “You sure? Autumn’s stomach might not be able to handle it.”

“It’s fine,” I insisted. “I feel better.”

And I was better. For the first time, food smells made me want to eat instead of gag. Andy eyed me askance when I ordered filet mignon, but I ate the whole thing.

For dessert, I ordered and demolished a slice of cheesecake. Then I stared pointedly at Andy’s bread pudding until he offered me a bite. I ate the rest of it.

Current Stepmom couldn’t finish her strawberry shortcake. I ate it for her.

Dad left a considerable chunk of chocolate soufflé on his plate. I ate that also.

“The Night Autumn Ate Everyone’s Dessert” was a marvelous turning point in my pregnancy. I stopped puking (mostly) and was able to enjoy food again.

I finally began gaining weight. A lot of it.

Dr. Sis was horrified the next time we talked. “How can you gain thirty pounds that fast?”

“I don’t feel like shit?”

“Yeah, but that’s so much! Really, you should only gain about ten pounds while pregnant.”

“Good grief, woman! Stop moving the goalposts! First you said thirty, then you said twenty, and now I’m only supposed to gain TEN pounds?! Leave obstetrics to the specialists and go back to curing cancer already.” I nearly hung up, but then remembered a story Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister had told me. I said, “Besides, weren’t you the one who got so big during your own pregnancy that your gigantic Georgia boy husband made jokes about how he couldn’t even get his arms around you anymore?” (Unlike me, Dr. Sis is quite petite.)

The silence lasted a good five seconds before she grudgingly admitted, “Something like that. But it was only because we were separated while I finished my residency and he hadn’t seen me in months–”

“How much weight did you gain?”

“It’s only because I had to keep eating so I wouldn’t throw up or pass out during surgeries and they had these free Dove ice-cream bars at the hospital and then I got put on bedrest–”

I interrupted again: “How much?!”

Dr. Sis sighed and said, “I stopped counting after seventy-five pounds.”

“Holy shit.”

“Yeah. So learn from me, okay?”

“Absolutely,” I assured her. “I’m already on it and texting Andy.”

“You’re telling Andy how much weight I gained?!”

“Nah, I’m texting him to pick up some of those Dove bars on the way home.
They sound awesome.”

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

25 thoughts on “The Weight of Pregnancy (#234)”

  1. I worked with a slightly chubby (husky? not sure what the PC word is) woman who got pregnant. She gained a LOT of weight and wouldn’t tell anyone how much. (Let’s just say that it was head turning!) What she said the doc told her she needed the weight to protect the baby in case she fell. I gave her an “A” for creativity.

      1. I seriously think she did (she sure looked it) but she never told us. Catching comments here and there, the doc was worried that she would have a hard delivery (which she did). She could only wear her husband’s old stretched out sweat pants after 6 month.

  2. Would you like to hear about the risk factors for shoulder dystocia? Or did GJDS already tell you about them?

    1. Heard all about shoulder dystocia. Along with placenta previa, placenta abruption, placenta accreta, umbilical cord strangulation, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and every other pregnancy horror story, plus all vaginal tearing stories, especially the ones involving 10-pound babies. JGDS has an especially good story about the uterus that exploded and the hundred units of blood they used up while she frantically worked to save the mother’s life (successfully, though she had to apologize to the hospital blood bank). I’ve noticed that everyone loves telling these stories to pregnant women, followed up with the statement, “I’m sure this won’t happen to YOU, though.”

      1. On a less obnoxious note, when I was still working at the place where I learned what all those things are, one of my friends who was pregnant at the time said to me, “I’m so happy I have someone I can discuss VBAC with.”

  3. Sounds like JGDS liked talking shop with you, which could be interpreted as a compliment? Medical professionals love their ‘horror’ stories, and eagerly share them as soon as possible. We love receiving the stories as well, more complications make it better, since we didn’t have to deal with it!

    1. Oh, no doubt. I think there’s always a pregnancy bond when swapping stories. Her own pregnancy was super rough, plus she’d done her OB rotation and knew everything that could go wrong. I did feel very fortunate that I had her experience to draw on, especially since our mom was long gone.

      But she sure was obsessive about the weight gain.

  4. This is definitely making me feel better about my own 1lb weight gain during my first trimester. I’m not throwing up as much but just about everything is making me gag. Hiding it from work has been fun.

    1. I am glad I made someone feel better! Sounds like you could use it. It’s no fun hiding a pregnancy, but it’s completely understandable. You never know if an employer is going to have a fit, and it’s painful enough to have a miscarriage without having to then tell all your coworkers you aren’t pregnant anymore.

  5. OMG! You have had such an eventful pregnancy. I’m sorry about all the puking. And then the sudden world-class appetite. Wow! You definitely outclass the rest of us with your pregnancy stories.

  6. Holy shit 75 pounds!?!?!

    You’re making pregnancy sound less and less attractive, haha. All the puking and weight gain… can’t wait.

    But I do have to admit, gorging on dove bars, little Debbies, pizza, cheesecake… that’s the life. I guess one has to make the most out of pregnancy while they can 😉

  7. My wife had luck with her pregancies that she never felt sick too much. She can probably can count with one hand how often she had to vomit.
    Anyhows, really holy shit about your sister’s weight gain ;D;D;D
    One of my wife’s friends in Finland suffered a lot during her second pregancy. She could not take any food and even the smell made her sick. The only thing she could eat were noodles without any flavour, just noodles in some water… She lost lots of weight back then and also it got dangerous for the baby. By now that little baby is nearly 18 and healthy and she got back into eating after that pregnancy and more than doubled her weight

  8. I gained 10 or 11 kilos during my pregnancy, and 5 of them are still with me. I read breastfeeding makes you lose weight but I am not really seeing it!! Maybe it’s because all the eating out I’ve been doing while my parents were visiting… I feel like eating cake all the time but I have to control myself!

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