This morning, as my first period class (a freshman-level honors class) was coming in to the room and taking their seats, I overheard the following hushed conversation:

Girl #1: I think she’s starting to look more pregnant.

Girl #2: Shhhh! You can’t say that!

Girl #1: Well, I just meant — oh, well, maybe not. But I think she looks…

Girl #2: Shhhh!

I am very proud of the fact that I was able to pretend not to hear any of this and keep a straight face. I know what Girl #2 was thinking — saying I was looking more pregnant was tantamount to saying I was getting fat, and one wouldn’t want that. But truth be told, I was happy that Girl #1 noticed (and I know why she did). Most days, I’ve been wearing enough warm layers and loose shirts that I haven’t really been obviously pregnant. Today, though, I had the principal in to observe, so I took the opportunity to spiff up a little bit by wearing a maternity dress to work for the first time. And, as anyone who has ever worn such a thing knows, those empire waists don’t do much to obscure one’s “delicate condition”!

Me, Maternity Dress, 19 Weeks

This picture actually doesn’t emphasize my 19-week belly quite as much as the other one I took, but it also featured a profoundly bovine look on my face, so this is the one you get. Nevertheless, it does in fact appear that I have reached the point at which my belly swells out as much as my breasts.

Cute dress (over which I have been wearing a tie-front purple sweater for most of the day) is the brand they sell at that maternity shop in the mall; Mom found it for me at a secondhand shop, whoo-hoo! I’m also wearing fleece-lined gray tights… not sure how much longer regular tights/leggings will continue to fit. My black boots won’t zip up anymore, so I know I’m carrying some weight in my legs as well as my torso.

[Potential TMI bit; skip at will] At nineteen weeks, I’ve noticed a few more little changes here and there. That constant sense of impending nausea has drifted gently away, although anything that activates that deep-cough reflex (for example, a particularly raucous laughing fit last night) still threatens to throw digestion into reverse. My appetite is still not great, but I’ve gotten better at noticing when my blood sugar is low. For the past several days I’ve had a mild-to-moderate headache, which I blame not on the pregnancy but on lingering stress/upset from an inexcusably awful outpouring of abuse I received from a relative on Thanksgiving night. (Been trying really hard to not let it get to me, but some things are easier said than done.) I’m feeling fatigue again, which is probably due to returning to work after five days off for Thanksgiving, and still loudly wondering why in the world they put so many stairs in our school.

The neatest change is that I am pretty sure that I can, occasionally, feel Shenanigan moving around in there. It certainly isn’t what I’d be able to identify as kicks or anything yet, but it seems to match up with what I’ve been told to expect. Sometimes it feels like gas burbling (isn’t that a ladylike thing to say? note to world: pregnancy is not ladylike) and sometimes it feels like a very mild muscle spasm. Other times, I just feel a sort of vague tightness in there. For the first time, I’m aware on a sensory level that there is Something In There; my lower abdomen has become heavy in a foreign sort of way, kind of like I’m wearing a heavy fanny pack around my waist or something.

[Back to neutral ground] In obliquely related news, I learned that two students that I know (they were never actually in my classes, but they were in an extracurricular I ran and in my room a lot with their friends) had a baby over the weekend. The new parents are sixteen; I very much hope that they have good family support and can make this work, one way or the other. I know a lot of people can find their partner at that age and have a very happy family together, and I know that teen parents can be amazing parents. But I also know that, no matter how much they love each other and that baby, no matter how much family support they have, their lives are going to be very different, and harder, than they would have otherwise been. They have my best wishes.

Audience participation time! What disqualifies a baby name for you? If you had a name that you really liked for an impending baby, and then that name was used by a relative… coworker… friend… former student… You know what I mean? Does that “ruin” the name for you? And what about the inverse: if you know that a name you like is the #1 Top Choice of a friend or family member — who may not actually be currently pregnant — should you strike it from your own list? When does a baby name become “off limits”?