Pregnancy is tough.
Spend five minutes being visibly pregnant and you are inundated with well meaning people telling you things you CAN’T do – from your midwives and doctors, to family, friends, coworkers, random strangers, Google, even homeless people you pass on the street corner.
Women are seemingly tasked with so much responsibility during the gestating part of having a baby – we are told if we eat lunch meat or tuna or a hot dog or soft cheese or sushi or raise our hands over our head or look at cat poop or eat too much or eat too little or lay on our backs or lay on our bellies or exercise or don’t exercise or paint or take an Advil or have a sip of beer or wine or coffee or herbal tea and on and on and ON, that we could be endangering our baby.
And no one wants to do that, of course: this plays right into our motherly instincts to put baby first, and we try hard to follow the (ever changing) rules.
But what this also does, I think, is create a false sense of control – there’s this implicit message that if we just try really hard to be perfect our babies will never have any risk. And THAT is in and of itself risky. It’s risky because it sets women up to fail and it is even more risky because it sets us up to blame ourselves if (God forbid) something actually does go wrong.
I very often fail at these expectations, and so I spend a lot of my pregnant time feeling guilty. Since motherhood is roughly 50% failing to meet our own expectations, and 50% guilt, I suppose this is good practice. But lately I have also been spending a lot of time brainstorming about the pros of pregnancy (instead of the cons.) Yes, there’s a lot I couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t do pregnant. Yes, I may have had to put aside my penchant for drinking wine straight out of the bottle and retired my favorite stiletto heels. But there is, believe it or not, a flip side. And it’s not just that at the end of this nine months of deprivation I get a beautiful baby.
It’s the things I can I do (pregnant) that I couldn’t if I wasn’t:
Bladder control has never really been my strong suit, but only when I am pregnant can I be open about the fact that I may have just peed in my pants a little. As a rule, I always say “may,” because it adds that air of exotic mystery, and I always say “a little,” because it sounds cute and girly. To be clear I am neither mysterious nor girly.
Wear yoga pants to work.
With flip-flops. That’s right, while you are jamming your feet into cute heels that cost more than my diaper genie, I am rocking Reefs. My feet feel like they are walking on pillows. My toenails are unpainted because I can’t reach them and my legs are unshaven because I am lazy. And my waistband ROLLS OVER. If at any given moment in my day I need to take an emergency nap (you would be surprised how often this happens) I am more than ready.
Eat like a human being, and not a girl.
I like food. A lot. Always, but especially when I am pregnant. My taste buds seem to grow along with my belly and things just taste AMAZING. And on top of that, people want to feed me. It’s pretty much the greatest combination on Earth. We go out to dinner, and I feel no pressure to order “just a salad.” I want MEAT, and I want it red, and I want it followed quickly with something a la mode. I don’t even care one little bit if I leave the restaurant with half of it dripping down the front of my maternity shirt, because that just means I can eat it later when I am lying in bed.
Talk incessantly about female anatomy.
In my normal life, people often wonder if I have Tourette’s syndrome because of the sheer frequency with which I use the words “vagina,” and “uterus.” Yet when I’m pregnant, it’s expected. Hell, people even broach the topics WITH ME. It’s amazing. I have a midwife who I pretty much hired so I can talk to her about vagina and uterus for as long as I want and she has to pretend to be interested. Random strangers in the grocery store tell me birth stories. They use the word “crowning.” It is fabulous.
Yell (and cry and scream).
Pregnancy hormones are tough! That’s cliché, but it’s also true. So after 3.5 pregnancies and 32 months of gestating, no one bats an eye when I randomly burst into tears. This can be advantageous. Want out of an awkward conversation? Start to weep. The uglier the cry, the faster people run away, so none of that demure feminine crying either. Want an excuse to say the things you have always thought but never said out loud for fear of being rude or being arrested? Blame it on your uterus.
People either get it because they’ve been there, or they run away because you said “uterus” again. Case in point: I recently spent a good twenty minutes screaming at my entire family because I couldn’t find the remote control. I made small children GET OUT OF BED to come hunt for it. I actually had a sore throat when it was all said and done from yelling so much. The remote, incidentally, was under my butt the whole time. Yet they forgave me. Damn hormones.
It’s a long nine months. It’s long, yet I have been down this road often enough to know it will in fact go by so quick. Soon I will just be one of those sad people roaming Wegmans looking for random pregnant people to talk uteruses with. So in the meantime, I am working this one for all I can get.
Right after this emergency nap.