So I’ve been complaining a little bit about pregnancy recently, which is fair enough, it’s tough, but it’s also very special. So here are the things I like about pregnancy:
- I’m never lonely. My husband works away a lot and it doesn’t get any easier having him so far away, so often. It’s not always easy when you’re pregnant and knackered and there’s no one to help with the dishwasher, or the bins, or the cats who keep needing to be taken to the emergency vets because they’re fighting with other cats! But I’m no longer lonely when he’s away because I’m never alone. I’ve always got this little person with me. Every time the little lonely mind-monster tries to creep into the room, I just put my hands on my growing bump and chat away to my little one. It wiggles and moves around in there and I know I’m not alone, not even nearly.
- Things piss me off a lot less. If I’m having a terrible day at work or someone has been horrible to me, of course it’s still upsetting, just for a much shorter period of time. Sometimes I need to have a jolly good cry about these things (everyone does) but then, quite quickly, I start to feel completely okay again. Because of this little bump, things that used to be the big things have become the small things. I’ve stopped sweating the small stuff. I have bigger fish to fry. Pregnancy is a fantastic way of gaining perspective.
- I can eat whatever I want! Of course I make sure I get the appropriate amount of nutrients for me and my baby and eat very healthily for the both of us but once those bits are covered, the fun really starts! I used to hate supermarket shopping, too much choice and temptation, but now if I feel like having it, I just go right ahead and put it in the trolley. Large packet of special Christmas biscuits? Sure. Terry’s Chocolate Orange? Absolutely. Frozen mozzarella sticks? You betcha. Ball of sparkly wool from the random middle isle of Lidl? YES. (I know that’s nothing to do with eating but I class wool as food for my soul.)
- It fascinates people. I sometimes catch people staring at my bump and if I know them well enough I’ll say “do you want to touch it?” and their faces always light up as they tenderly place their hands my tummy and I can see the wonder in their eyes as they touch a brand new life growing. My husband can’t seem to get over how spectacular it is either! He marvels at my growing figure and chats away to the bump and just can’t get over the fact that I’m actually growing a person. It always reminds me how lucky I am and what a privilege this really is.
- I’m much better at being nicer to myself. I’ve been notoriously horrible to myself my entire life. No one can possibly be as mean to me as I have been to myself. It baffles the people around me sometimes and I have to say it doesn’t make too much sense to me either. I’m hard on myself and I hold myself to impossibly high standards that no one could ever attain and then I punish myself when I don’t reach them. But not anymore. I have to be nice to me because I have to be nice to the little person inside of me. I want to be nice to me because I want to be nice to the little person inside of me. And I now love me because I love the little person inside of me. Can’t tell you what a relief it is to finally feel this way.
I think a lot of women with a history of mental illness worry about getting pregnant and what this might do to their stability, I think I’ll do a more specific blog on this soon, but I have to say, on the whole I actually think pregnancy has mellowed me. This whole pregnancy thing is quite the journey! And I’ve just got to keep enjoying the ride!
to a Pregnant Woman.
People say weird shit to pregnant women. Every other human who’s ever grown a child with their body, knows this to be true.
So in the spirit of everyone getting a long a little better, I’ve decided that the rule to live by, should you find yourself talking to a person “with child”, is to not say anything you wouldn’t say to a non-pregnant person. Here are some examples:
- Do not tell a pregnant person she looks fat. Would you tell a non-pregnant person they look fat? No. (Or at least I very much hope not.) I’m presuming that anyone who throws this kind of insult at a woman who’s probably already feeling weird about their body, is actually trying to say, “your bump looks bigger.” If this is the case, I suggest the ol’ faithful “you’re blooming.” Everyone knows this is code for “oh my, you’re expanding at a rate of knots,” but the fact that it implies you’re opening up like a beautiful flower and that yes, you may be the size of a small fishing vessel, but it doesn’t matter because you’re growing a human (which is a frikin miracle), makes it all okay.
- Do not comment on how much a pregnant person is eating. Unless you’re a medical professional, in a medical situation, I don’t think it’s a good idea to comment on the amount that someone is eating, especially if you think that amount is a lot. It might be that you see this lovely pregnant woman at the same time every day, the time in which she has rewarded herself for all her hard work (and pregnancy is bloody hard work) with a cupcake and a packet of crisps. The rest of the day she might be quaffing highly healthy smoothies and homemade vegetable soups, you don’t know! And even if you did, it is precisely zero business of yours!
- Do not comment on what a pregnant person is wearing. It’s not always easy to get dressed when every day you wake up and are a little bit bigger than the day before. Your wardrobe all of a sudden consists of about ten items, somehow you have to dress for work and leisure using just these ten things and all of your tights and pants feel like they might ping off at any second, hurting people as they ricochet around the room. So when you finally dress yourself and go out into the world and someone says “gosh, that’s a bit tight, isn’t it?” it can feel pretty hurtful. You would never say this sentence to anyone not pregnant, unless you’re related or have known each other at least three years, have seen each other wee, cry and possibly throw up. So don’t say it to a pregnant woman, she might just say it back!
- Do not laugh at a pregnant persons’ birth plan. If someone, in all seriousness and sincerity, told you their five-year plan or their holiday plans or their marriage plans, would you laugh in their face? Probably not. People plan their weekly shop, they plan for Christmas; they plan every event in their lives from the mundane to the remarkably important, so why do some people think it’s ridiculous to make plans for the single most significant life event that can ever happen to anyone? Plans don’t mean “this is definitely going to happen this way” and no pregnant woman’s birth plan means “this is definitely going to happen this way.” We may have baby brain but we’re not stupid. Our birth plans are how we would like things to go, based on months of research and serious contemplation. We are aware that things might go differently on the day. Telling someone not to plan for birth because it might not go to plan, is like telling someone not to plan their wedding in case it rains. Yes, your dreams of getting hitched under a beautiful canopy in a stately home garden may be somewhat dashed when a minor hurricane rips off the roof of said canopy, but you get married somewhere else in the lovely stately home and the outcome is still something resembling what you always hoped it would be. Also, based on the correlation between a birth in which a mother feels out of control and unprepared, and post-natal depression, I don’t see why we’re not all encouraging mothers-to-be to think about how they would like to give birth. And with the tendency for people to tell you how harrowing childbirth is, we’re somewhat staring down the abyss here. If you laugh at someone’s birth plan, chances are you’re laughing at a very nervous woman who needs your encouragement and not your derision. Think about that.
I do find it a bit odd how people treat pregnant women and it’s been a bit of a surprise to encounter all of the above. I think the rule of not doing/saying it to a pregnant person if you wouldn’t do/say it to a non-pregnant person is a pretty good rule to go by. For example, and this hasn’t happened to me (yet), you would never place your hands on a stranger’s tummy, but I’ve been told that this happens an awful lot to pregnant women in their last trimester.
What we’re doing is a great privilege but also, we’re getting stretch marks, our skin might be mottled and a lot hairier than usual, our boobs are becoming unrecognisable, we might be in serious pain or discomfort, we might be throwing up three times a day, we might be shitting ourselves at the life-changes afoot. Be nice. It might make a real difference.