Thursday, April 14, 2011

Words from the Pregnant Lady

I could (and should and will) update you on the lovely painting job my mom did in our bedroom earlier this week. The bedroom that all three of us will share - Husband, Baby, and me. I could also tell you about the new fabric I picked up tonight to make new curtains for either our kitchen or living room (haven't decided for sure which place they'll go yet). However, what's really on my mind is the need to vent a little and impart some (hopefully humorous) words of wisdom when encountering a pregnant lady - or at least this one.

1. Do you know how many times a day a pregnant lady is asked "how are you feeling?" depends on how many people the lady encounters, but suffice it to say too many. I know and understand it's meant to show you care and most of the time it's truly a sincere question. The problem is two-fold. First, I feel like I've already told everyone and their mother how I'm feeling, so I just get tired of sharing because my answer really doesn't change. And second, you don't actually want me to always be honest with you. For example, I'm not about to say, "Great, except it's harder than heck to poop!!" Or "I'm experiencing something akin to menstrual cramps but 20 times worse as my stomach stretches, thanks for asking." Don't think I haven't been tempted, though! ;)

2. Why are people obsessed over pregnancy cravings? I swear my co-workers (often the same ones) ask me something about this at least 3 or 4 times a week. Do you realize not everyone craves anything let alone weird things? In fact, at this stage in pregnancy food is SO uninteresting to me that the only thing that bothers me more than having to eat it is talking about it.

3. People (lots) are starting to ask me if I'm feeling the baby kick. The question is well-meaning, which I appreciate, but the problem is I have no idea how to respond. The truth: No, I don't, actually because my placenta is between my outer belly and the baby, cushioning it's smaller movements. I only feel the big ones. But my baby is healthy and thriving. What I usually say: Oh yes.
Who wants to hear (or cares) about the placement of my placenta? I'd rather not explain, give a quick answer, and have people move on.

4. I haven't experienced morning sickness. And after 3 or 4 weeks, my answer still hasn't changed. Plus, do you really want to know? Really???

5. Nope, we're not finding out the baby's gender. Nope, neither of us feels a compelling need to know. In fact, we WANT to be surprised. So please can any complaints about not knowing what to buy or the colors you feel you're now limited to. We happen to like green and yellow; we'd happily dress a girl in blue; and did orange, red, purple, brown, black, white, and gray suddenly disappear from the color spectrum? Green and yellow are not your only options. Just sayin'.

6. Baby names. Oh, dear me, baby names. This is something that everyone seemingly wants to know about. We aren't sharing or taking suggestions. Period. And we have good reasons for it. Allow me to share a few of them.
     a. Everyone has opinions about names, but this baby is ours - not everyone else's.
     b. Choosing names is an incredibly personal thing for Husband and me, and it's a way for us to bond over and get to know our little one before he or she arrives. That's for us. Not everyone else.
     c. Humans are, by nature, judgmental creatures. We don't want to know what your opinion is about a name we like before we decide to give it to our child. You'll know when our child is named.
    d. We have a list and some favorites, but ultimately, we want to see our baby first before we decide on a name. And therefore, aren't looking to be swayed by anyone but that precious babe on its birth day.

7. Then there are ultrasound pictures. Something just as personal, if not more so, than baby names. Can I just tell you that these are the strangest looking pictures ever? On the screen, we had little trouble identifying what we were seeing. The print outs look like alien blobs. These alien blobs are not something I want to share on facebook or with the world. We'll show our parents and siblings...maybe others? Besides the pictures being small and hard to see, they represent an intensely personal moment for us as parents - it's the first time we saw our baby. Our baby who is still growing and squirming in my belly. Our baby who isn't fully formed. Our baby who will be here in a shorter time than we think. So, forgive us if we aren't quick to share this with you.

8. There seems to be a hazing ritual that occurs between established parents and new parents that differs for each sex. Established fathers tell fathers-to-be how much life is going to change (ultimately for the worse) once the baby arrives, and how much harder it's going to be in a seemingly light-hearted, half-joking kind of way. Established mothers share childbirth horror stories and/or child birthing tips. Does it occur to those fathers that Mr. S is excited to be a daddy? Does it occur to those mothers that my child birth experience will be unique because my body is different than theirs? If either Mr. S or I want to know something, we'll ask. Otherwise, what happened to the mantra "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?"

*9. (Added after initial post). Parenting starts even before the baby comes. We've been making some decisions already that will impact the way we raise and live with our little one. Decisions like OBGYN vs. midwife, hospital vs birthing center vs home birth, whether or not to breastfeed, how we'll sleep, etc. These decisions were very carefully thought out and come to with the help of information provided by our midwives and the reading we've been doing. And some key friends whose opinions we solicited. Giving us your unsolicited opinion about what we've decided as far as sleeping arrangements go is akin to me coming into the lunchroom and telling you the diet you're on is all wrong. What do I know about your diet? Why should I care about your diet? What do you know about how we want to raise our baby? What do you know about our sleeping habits? And why in the world do you care enough to offer an opinion? I don't mind sharing this information with friends who are honestly and sincerely curious about what we've decided and why we came to that decision - they aren't looking to offer an opinion or pass judgment. They know we're thoughtful people and there's a reason why we chose one thing vs another and want to be more informed and enlightened. They respect our opinions even if their own opinions are different.

Ultimately, it's not that we don't want you to share in our joy or be curious. It's that pregnancy is an intensely personal experience. Under normal circumstances, I don't share every detail of my life. But as a pregnant lady it seems expected that this should change and I don't entirely understand why. I try very hard to be respectful of people's curiosity and sincerity, and I never intend to offend. Please try to extend the same courtesy to us. Soon enough, our baby will be here for us to pass around and share - fully formed and outside of my body, a delightful, curious little person. When we can place our child in your arms, we'll be happy to share him or her with you, but for now we're let us enjoy and bond over this experience sharing with you what we choose - what isn't too personal.

~Ms. S

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