Pregnancy’s quirks and nuances are wholly unappreciated by the world at large.
Applying the most simplistic visual logic, people make a 0.02 second judgement call that goes something like this. You are classified as either:
Read: behemoth, sexually redundant and off limits.
Captured sublimely by the phrase, ‘Pregnant bodies make me feel a bit sick.’ Quote courtesy of my beloved brother, God bless his soul. He does faint when he sees blood but he can’t have endeared himself to my heavily pregnant sister in law with that sort of blatant male stupidity.
Read: nubile, sexually lush, and up for it.
As the most Alpha of them all put it so eloquently whilst banging his chest in an act of brazen maleness, ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’.
Yet this black & white world-view fails to distinguish the wheat from the chaff when it comes to pregnancy.
There were 6 pregnant girls in the playground we visited this morning and I’ve made an autonomous decision that I’ll take that as a statistically valid sample. My anthropological research reveals an important fact:
Women talk about their pregnancies in a very functional way.
Like pregnancy is something that has happened to their bodies, rather than being a part of them.
In short, it’s as if it is some sort of annoying affliction.
Why is that?
Why did I not, in my robust sample of 6, hear anything except whinging and moaning today?
“Agh, I’m walking like a duck ‘cos my neck’s so sore.”
“I’ve given up on sleep, at this stage you don’t sleep anyway because everything hurts.”
“My hands have swollen like I have premature arthritis, look… isn’t it gross?”
“I have to wear flats because I’m retaining so much water I’ve grown kankles.”
And these were women who, by and large, looked A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
One was dressed in a Lululemon black stretch hoodie and gym tights with her older boy’s jumper strewn over her shoulder like a loving afterthought. From the back she had the thighs and bum of a lithe teenager. Another was wearing skinny jeans with a green striped jumper, knee high boots and a shiny aquamarine Tree of Life scarf. She could have walked straight into a Boho-chic photoshoot and fit the part.
Yes, their bellies were in varying degrees of roundness, and sure, some were carrying better than others, but they were out on a gorgeous sunny day, and they were all undeniably Yummy. So why, oh why, were they bleating like their lives depended on it?
Maybe the fact that I’ve had to fight so hard for all my pregnancies makes me mad about this stuff. Maybe I get some fight in me when I feel like mums in waiting are taking it for granted. Maybe I’m just sick to death of media stereotypes portraying pregnancy and childbirth as hideous ordeals that we poor, long suffering women have to endure.
Sure, it makes for a funny blog entry or entertaining Hollywood script to write it that way but the fact is…it’s a cheap gag.
(And it’s been done before).
I am not an earth mother, a hippy or a freak. But when I finally did fall pregnant (that’s another blog for another day) I had a spectacularly beautiful pregnancy and an amazing birth experience that I can honestly say, was NOT SORE. It was the best day of my life and I have never felt more powerful as a woman. Was I just lucky? Maybe. But you make your own luck in life, and part of doing that was consciously avoiding any of that negative hype that people feel obliged to thrust your way the second they hear your ‘good news’.
I’m fairly certain that my sample of 6 are all happy about being pregnant. That they lie in bed at night with their husbands brainstorming names and mock-fighting over school options for their Johnny’s or Jane’s. Yet publicly it seems these days it is simply “Not OK” to admit that being pregnant is just about the coolest thing that’s ever happened to you.
I got mad in the playground today. A quick flick through the annals of ‘Pregnancy & Childbirth through the ages’ reveals that women have been through enough torture.
And right about now, it’s time we stopped being our own worst enemies. If the world at large is guilty of an ill-conceived pregnant woman stereotype, well, that’s because we feed our own monster.
Want more? You can find Park Confessional here;