pregnancy Q&A

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The Glory

I’m still recovering from post-birth baby brain, though I’m tentatively noodling around with book edits again and getting ready to tackle the submissions process. I actually drafted this blog when I was pregnant with my first child and never posted it. I was getting flustered about having the same conversation every day. And then I felt bad and didn’t want anyone to feel called out. And now I don’t remember who that could possibly be, so if we had these conversations: no worries.

Bizarrely, I didn’t have this experience at ALL while pregnant the second time! Do first-time moms exude some air of uncertainty that invites the opinions of strangers? Or do second-time moms exude some air of weary impatience that staves OFF the opinions of strangers? I may never know!


With a baby around the corner, I thought I’d reflect on the public interaction part of pregnancy so far.

Because, ah man, I would have been happy to only let my friends, family, and immediate coworkers know that I am expecting, but it hits a point that you are too physically obvious and strangers want in on the excitement, too. I work with the public, which means new people want to weigh in on the situation every week.

I’m being good-humored and taking it for what it is: polite small talk. It’s an easy topic to make chit-chat about because everybody at least knows somebody with kids. If I don’t want to answer something I laugh and hand-wave it off, but I try not to be rude because I know it’s coming from a polite place.

The most common opening question trifecta, understandably:

  1. When are you due?
  2. Do you know if it’s a boy or girl?
  3. Is this your first?

1-2-3 this is basically every conversation I have with curious patrons. I have been tempted to lie on number 3 and say I already have kids, because inevitably once I admit that this is my first baby people get the urge to gleefully explain some aspect of childbirth to me. The most bizarre thing that I didn’t anticipate: folks really want to tell you every childbirth horror story they know, all culminating in, “And then you end up getting a C-section.”

This has happened repeatedly:

“Are you planning to give birth naturally?”
“Well… I mean, I’m intending to, yeah.”
“It doesn’t matter what you plan, you might need a C-section.”

Thank you???

Everybody also wants to tell me how exhausting it will be, how you are never really ready, how your life will change, etc. They really play up the downsides. Meanwhile, my childless friends get the opposite barrage: questions about when they are planning to have kids, and insistence that “your biological clock will kick in and then you’ll do it!” But apparently once you actually get pregnant the rhetoric switches to convincing you it’s going to be terrible. Make up your mind, general public!!

There has also been a major fascination with prying out my symptoms. During the first half in particular, these were the most common questions:

  • Have you been throwing up?
  • Are you having mood swings?
  • Do you have any crazy food cravings?

Not only did people ask me this repeatedly, they asked my husband too! I finally figured it out: there are a zillion and one pregnancy symptoms, but these three are TV and movie STANDARDS, so if you don’t know much else about pregnancy, you know, “Morning sickness, mood swings, and cravings.” The reality involves a lot more issues with the digestive tract, it is wholly undignified, don’t even ask what’s going on down there, okay the answer is gas.

I don’t want to share my medical history with strangers, so when people get even more detailed (have you had this? that? any of this other thing I’ve heard of?) I kind of give a blanket denial. It isn’t that I want to perpetuate an illusion that all is going swimmingly, but I’m not keen on talking about my bodily functions at work either! So I say everything is fine even if ten things are bothering me that day. We’re just making small talk, I’m not going to start droning, “Sinuses are stuffed, feet are swollen, my boobs leaked last night and plastered my shirt to my chest”– America, is this really what you want to hear?

Now in the second half it is mostly questions about my future plans: am I going back to work? am I going to breastfeed? Again a bunch of stuff I don’t feel the need to explain to strangers, but by this point in the conversation they’ve noticed that I keep laughing and waving my hands and not answering questions. It’s starting to get weird. Find a way out, find a way out!

Ask your friends a bunch of questions about their pregnancies (I, too, am always eager to compare complaints! I have many!). Ask your coworkers, even, if you’re friendly enough. But think twice before peppering a total stranger with all your horror stories, especially customer service personnel who are trapped into that polite smile!

an open letter to my body

Dear body,

We’re nearing the end of this pregnancy now (my baby is due today!) and I thought this would be a good time for your semi-annual performance review. It’s been an interesting year, fulls of ups and downs, lotta ins, lotta outs. I firmly believe that a little praise goes a long way, so let’s talk about your strengths before we get to the constructive criticism.

I’m going to miss the adorable basketball belly. I have to confess, you’ve charmed me. The way you sway in the opposite direction of my hips and torso when I’m waddling around is particularly amusing to watch when I’m going down a flight of stairs. I have to grip the handrails for dear life because there is an anchor strapped around my waist, but who’s quibbling.

I’ll also miss watching/feeling the baby kick. Now, this isn’t strictly a good practice on your part, body, it’s the baby, but take praise where you can get it. I’m going to miss the surreal, scifi-esque weirdness that is another body squirming inside my body. Bulging out here and there, flailing under my ribs, head-butting my cervix. I’m not making it sound very good but trust me, it’s the coolest thing.

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The only pregnancy photo I want or need

While we’re here, I’d like to thank you for avoiding many of the most cliche pregnancy symptoms repeated ad nauseam on television and film. Approximately two thousand people asked me if I had morning sickness, mood swings, and hilariously crazy food cravings, and approximately two thousand times I answered: I was nauseous for a month but never threw up, I feel fine, and no I happily ate all the same junk before.

Oh, and thank you for surviving Egypt. It was a much-needed vacation and I’m glad we snuck a last hurrah into the second trimester before beginning what will surely be a long dearth in travel. I mean, your feet swole up something awful and we weren’t allowed to pet a million feral cats, but we walked the shit out of that country anyway and I appreciate it.

THAT BEING SAID.

There are a few areas, body, in which you seriously dropped the ball. Aside from the fact that you gained fifty pounds rather than the recommended thirty. Aside from the gallstones (yes, the gallstones, you’ve never had a gallbladder problem in your life and suddenly cream cheese is our mortal enemy?). Aside from the aforementioned swollen feet, accompanied by swollen hands, chubby cheeks, and a general Michelin Man aesthetic I didn’t realize we had aspired toward.

First, there is the matter of our hips. Hips, why are you trying to dislocate from the rest of our body? I need my legs. I need them to remain attached to me. I use them on a nearly daily basis. I know you don’t like sleeping on your side, but we all have to make sacrifices in life. Running away isn’t the answer.

Body. Really. You’ve put the gas back in gastrointestinal system. I thought we were more dignified than this, but the last nine months have been a rollercoaster ride of constipation, diarrhea, and weird smells. And nobody wants that on a rollercoaster.

While we’re in the region: you’re leaking pee now, too? Don’t blame the baby, you can take a few punches to the bladder without going soft on me. You’ve had 29 years to learn self-control, and you’re losing a boxing match to a fetus. You know what, body? Let’s just cut you off from the tailbone down. Legs had the right idea.

And now we’re not sleeping. I thought we were supposed to be saving up sleep to remember fondly when we’re up all night with an infant, but no, you’re a classic overachiever. Calf cramps, broken hips, and wild nightmares about shadow ghost killers, you’ve really gone out of your way to make every night last as long as the clock will allow. I’m not really sure what you meant to accomplish by this–please include an explanation in your self-review.

Anyway, I don’t want to psych you out right before the Big Day! Haha. What’s done is done, and now we can focus on getting you back into your old, slightly more fit shape. Let’s get back in touch–oh, say six months from now?–to assess our progress. You can do it, body.

Or you’re fired.

-Sam

alien baby shower

I haven’t mentioned my pregnancy much on the blog, but with 7 weeks to go there isn’t much reason to be coy about it. Yesterday we had our baby shower, and it rocked. About 40 people spread through my sister’s yard–and after seeing how comfortably we all fit I realized, dangit I should have invited more of my friends and work buddies!

We went with an alien theme. Like, Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens. Because Ellen Ripley is my favorite movie character ever, and it totally made sense because the movies are all about body horror, procreation, and (in the case of Aliens) mothers doing whatever is fucking necessary to protect their kids.

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Hell. Yeah.

But I’ll devote a whole blog to the awesomeness of Ellen Ripley, and why she has never been topped as a female action hero. (My second-favorite action mom, Sarah Connor, does come close).

Today I’ll just say I was really happy with how the party turned out. The premise was that the crew of Nostromo went back into their freezers shortly after Kane’s facehugger dropped off, when they all thought he was doing okay. Ash also collected some more eggs as specimens since the crew didn’t understand their danger. Therefore, instead of shit going down in space, clearly shit would have gone down at the Welcome Home party thrown at Weyland-Yutani headquarters.

Clearly.

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