I had a somewhat physically and emotionally trying week. By trying, I mean really not that bad. I was a little more achy, tired and bloated than normal, was coping with the physical and anxiety-riddling effects of an “irritable uterus” (I’ll post more about this glorious diagnosis another day – don’t lose sleep!), and had to tolerate some asinine comments from a few rock stars about my pregnant – and apparently sizeable – status. Was it really so terrible? Of course not. But due to the detrimental effects of pregnancy duration on tolerance for other humans, I had to fight the urge to do and say some things that otherwise would have landed my expanding darier in the clink.
Just as I was prepared to sit down, rant and share a grumbling post about pregnancy woes, I remembered Thanksgiving is around the corner. I made a silent vow to attempt to be more appreciative and optimistic and not fuss about trivial things when I know I have it really, really great in the grand rollercoaster of life. Pregnancy is a blessing and a miracle and I am grateful every day I have the health and hips to withstand such an endeavor. However, I would like to touch on the underappreciated and less obvious perks of creating a life. I’m sure some of my cynicism –a quality I’m incapable of completely repressing – will inevitably bleed through the lines of positivity, but here’s a solid attempt at being a rosy, graceful woman with child instead of my usual beastly, griping, knocked-up self.
I love food and I love to eat. This is nothing new. I have been told at multiple points in my life that I can consume impressive amounts of food, and while I’m sure it wasn’t intended to be such, I take it as a compliment. Nathan and I used to half-joke, half-daydream of being a competitive eating couple/team. In reality, he would carry the team because while I might do okay with the quantity, I just don’t have the speed. Also, why do competitive eating competitions always have such crappy food choices to eat in bulk? Hot dogs? Oysters? Gross. If they smarten up and choose pancakes or mu shu pork or enchiladas, sign me up!
The glorious thing about pregnancy is you are expected and encouraged to eat more. Sometimes while out to eat, I picture myself confidently telling the waiter, “No sir, just one entrée for me today,” and the whole restaurant stares at me with awe and admiration and a slow clap commences. “Just look at that pregnant lady – so dainty! Such self control! She’s amazing!”
Surprisingly, I eat healthier than my normal self when I’m pregnant. This is primarily a result of near-constant maternal guilt that if I don’t eat more fruit and veggies and less junky, processed foods, our baby might come out with a third eye or a dozen nipples.
Also, in the long haul I know that after the tiny person escapes my womb, it will require certain effort on my part to shed the extra poundage, and my overall lack of energy and willpower might pose a challenge. Therefore, although I hardly obsess or pay too much attention to the
devil bathroom scale, I make a conscious effort to limit my pregnancy weight gain to double digits.
When it’s obvious you’re eating for two, family, friends, and coworkers generally try and throw more food at your face – which makes me very happy. Old ladies are especially guilty, and praiseworthy, of this. Older women – particularly strangers in public settings – are the same individuals that ask inappropriate questions like, “Did you get pregnant on purpose, dear?” and “Are you leaking any fluids? Make sure you tell the doctor if you do!” They also enjoy telling cringe-worthy, unwelcome stories like, “Oh my friend Delores almost DIED in childbirth…let me tell you all about it!” Fortunately, they are quickly forgiven by standing in as your biggest cheerleader in the eating department. “Are you SURE you’re eating enough?” “Keep eating, it’s good for the baby!” Then, like pregnancy angels, they hand you more pie.
#2: People are kind.
Something about a burgeoning belly brings out the best in people. Seeing a preggo, strangers are more likely to spontaneously smile, strike up conversation, open the door for you, or even let you cut in line at the grocery store. I vividly remember an occurrence in Hazel’s young baby days when I was loading up the car to head home from I-don’t-remember-where. While Hazel was crying in her car seat and it was pouring rain, I fumbled with the stroller which refused to fold up like it was supposed to (nothing to do with the operator, of course) and I was clearly struggling to load something heavier than my noodle arms could comfortably manage into the trunk. Amidst the awkward and frustrating debacle, some butthole waited in his vehicle to pull into my parking spot. He waited, blinker obnoxiously reminding me I was wasting his precious time, and at one point when we made eye contact through the rain, he put his arms in the air as if to say, “What’s the hold up, dummy??” This was one of those rare instances where I felt such hatred and rage, I wanted nothing more than to throw the stroller through his window. (I didn’t).
Where am I going with this? Pregnancy usually changes the way people act. Although this guy would probably have been a jerk no matter what, most people seem to bend over backward to aid a damsel in distress – or, just a waddling lady with a melon stuck in her torso. In contrast to the story above, I left a store the other day – in sunshine – with one lonely bag of
oreos peanut butter carrots in hand, and not one, but TWO people offered to carry my bag for me. Their offers were generous, genuine, and thoroughly appreciated. While offering me assistance, their faces appeared in such a way that they clearly worried the 1 ½ lbs of groceries would tear my arms from their sockets.
When pregnant, people seem sincerely concerned about your happiness and well-being. Like the old ladies discussed above, they also feel it is time to ask wayyy too much about your personal biz-ness, but at least they are asking, and sometimes they’re even sympathetic when you drone on about how visually and physically challenging it has become to paint your toenails.
#3: Excuse, excuses.
I remember someone telling me shortly after we found out we were pregnant with Hazel to “…milk it for all it’s worth.” I was appalled. Were they insinuating I would use this miracle baby to take advantage of others? I am better than that!
Except…I’m not. Between morning sickness and fatigue, leg cramps and backaches, I have found I often don’t have the will or energy to get sucked into doing things I otherwise wouldn’t want to. Pregnancy provides ample excuses for lots of things:
*Crying at every Hallmark and ASPCA commercial you see?
It’s the baby’s fault. And Sarah McLachlan’s.
*Don’t feel like tackling that chore?
Lie down and rest! There’s an adorable little human zapping all your strength.
*Is your filter broken and you said something you shouldn’t?
Those pesky hormones are obviously to blame.
*Forgot to do something? Cursed pregnancy brain!
*Don’t wanna do that thing that somebody asked you to do and you would normally be guilted into doing even though you don’t want to?
Just point to the belly and say, “Well, I’m pregnant, so….” And they’ll get off your case.
The great thing about these excuses is that nobody really likes to question them. Without a baby on board you might be pressured or nagged for failing to accomplish or participate in certain things. But when you’re pregnant? No inquisitions. It seems individuals – especially men – don’t want to push any buttons or ask any questions for fear you will collapse or cry or the baby will fall out right in front of them.
As you can see, in addition to procreating and bringing another life into the world, pregnancy has its advantages. There are many more benefits, of course, than those listed above, but I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites. That way, when the final weeks approach and I am especially prone to spontaneous pity parties, I’ll recall this list and aim my focus on the perks instead of the pains. Or, at least, I’ll REALLY try. Or…more likely… I’ll seek out an elderly female and let the pie wash away my tears.