Thursday, October 24, 2013

Take the good with the bad

I have to admit, for the most part I've really enjoyed being pregnant. At the very least, it's fun digging into the biology behind what's going on and tracking the changes in myself. Seriously, it's magical to be able to make another human being.
At its best, I realize in awe that no one else will ever get to have this experience of my child that I do. Not even Shane has gotten to know her yet as I have, through her kicks and rolls and how we respond to each other. I eat certain things and she turns into a little ninja, I think in appreciation. (Baby loves Thai food as much as I do!) I sing and she goes quiet, either sleeping or just appreciating. However, she kicked and rolled through all of my Symphony rehearsals as if she was dancing. I've had a few inordinately stressful moments at work over the past few months and every time I got really stressed out she started moving a whole bunch like she was trying to say, "Mom, chill out! It doesn't matter!" It's amazing, getting to know her this way.
So most of my griping is because I'm just impatient. I dream about holding my Baby in my arms and I want to do it right now. We've technically reached full term (I'm almost 38 weeks) but still have a couple of weeks to go for optimum health. Still, when I'm alone I'll tell her that she can come out any time now, I'm ready.
My other big gripe is how other people respond to me being pregnant. I thought the most annoying thing ever would be having others touch my belly. But, I realize that the people who do this are just excited and awed by what's going on. I even invite people to touch my belly when she's poking a knee or a foot out, so that they can experience it a little for themselves. And really, it's only been friends who've touched my belly. (Plus one coworker.) One friend gets teased for being "that guy" because every time he sees me he reaches out and gently lays a hand on my belly. But, the look in his eyes is so reverent. He just thinks it's so cool, and how can I be annoyed with that?
What I didn't expect was the number of people who would think that it's perfectly acceptable to tell me how huge I am. What...what the hell? Why would you ever say that to a person? If it's not acceptable to say to someone who's not pregnant, why would it suddenly be acceptable to say to a woman just because she is pregnant? You wouldn't tell a fat person how huge they are. (Or at least, you fall into the category of "giant douche" if you do.) Generally, you expect that an overweight person will know it. And you know what? I do too. I already feel like a whale without you needing to say it, thankyouverymuch. And while I generally have a healthy body image, and I understand that I've gained weight because it's healthy when you're pregnant, I do still have my fears. Will I ever be able to get back into the shape I was before I got pregnant? Will I have stretched out, saggy skin forever? I take solace in the fact that my stomach is stretch-mark free, not because stretch marks are so terrible but just because it's one thing to cling to and feel good about.
These comments are all the more hurtful because I really haven't gained that much weight. 25 pounds is on the lower end of the recommended weight gain for someone who's not over- or under-weight. I measure exactly where I should be at every appointment, and there are no signs that I'm going to have a particularly big baby. No one at the doctor's office has said a word about my weight gain, since it's exactly what it's supposed to be. But, I'm short. Adding 25 lbs to my frame looks very different from adding that same weight to the frame of someone several inches taller. Also, I'm carrying all out front. I still have most of the inward curve to my waist when looked at from the front or back. So, yeah. The belly looks pretty big. But, there's also a tiny person in there. I made a fucking person. Back off about how big I am.
I do understand that most of the women who've made comments about my size (yes, it's only been women--men KNOW not to tell a woman she's big) don't have any children of their own and so I can give them the benefit of the doubt that they don't quite understand how hurtful that statement can be. There are only two people who've said this that I know were being catty. One I can forgive, because she's a friend and I have no doubt she was just trying to make herself feel better for her own pregnancy weight gain. (Which doesn't mean I didn't really want to point out that at least I don't look like a dumpling, round all over, and I did avoid her for a few weeks to calm down.) The other woman...well, there's a history there that I won't go into. Needless to say, I already couldn't stand her so her bitchiness is far less hurtful than the comment from an acquaintance who said, "Weren't you supposed to have that baby already? No?! Oh. ...Well, you're going to have a biiiiiig, healthy baby."
The other annoying question I get seems so innocent at first. But, everyone seems to ask it and I think it's about the dumbest question ever. "Are you getting excited?" What do they expect me to say, no? Of course I'm flipping excited! If I wasn't so huge, I'd be doing backflips to show how excited I am. It's right up there with people asking the gender and when I tell them they say, "Ooh, are you excited?" Once again, of course I am. But not because she's a girl, I'm just excited because I'm having a baby. A healthy baby, at that! That is something to celebrate, but it should be obvious and you don't need to ask me if I'm excited. Just trust me, I am.
Men can be weird about it all, and in such varying ways. Most ignore it, some (like my friend who touches my belly) are super excited about it, some are leery (as if it might be catching?), and some are just plain weird. There was the creepy guy in my office the other day who kept asking me questions with a weird smile. Maybe he was just trying to be nice, but I was just trying to work and I didn't want to play 20 Questions About the Baby Belly. It doesn't help that he started, randomly, with "So, does this mean you're having a baby?" "This"? I should have said that it was a tumor.
I did also have a friend of a friend (who, for background, was asking weird questions all night, including if anyone would mind if he lit up a joint, in a place where no smoking is allowed) ask me randomly who my doctor is. I reacted a bit harshly, in part because he'd been so strange all night and partly because I was so sick of answering questions. So I said, "I'm not going to tell you that. You've basically just asked me who's been poking around inside my vagina, and I don't feel like telling you." He got offended and only afterward explained that, apparently, his wife works in healthcare and knows a number of the OBs in town. It would have helped had he lead with that information, but it's still a weird question for a man to ask a woman. Or am I the only one who feels that way? I think it was also the suddenness of it, and the awkwardly confrontational manner in which he asked it. Not jovial, or silly, or curious. More of a command than a question, like he expected an answer, or deserved one. He was just as awkward and socially inept every other time he opened his mouth, so I was out of patience.
The one thing I don't get sick of is hearing my brothers answer their phones with, "Baby time? Or not yet?" They're so excited to become uncles, and they will be fantastic at it. Also, adorable. They will be adorable uncles. :)
I'm also overwhelmed by the number of friends and family who've sent things to us. I got a message from a cousin the other day which basically came down to, "What will be the most helpful thing you still need?" It was like a long-distance hug, I felt so loved. She's sending a box with a few things she'd kept from when her own babies were babies. So while we have lots of baby stuff, we've bought basically none of it. One dress and one infant onesie (but only because they're blue and we needed something to go against all the pink): $4, used. One nasal aspirator and one set of baby nail clippers: $5. That's it. If you count the gift card, we bought a humidifier but spent $0 of our own money. If you count the things I've needed while pregnant, we've bought some prenatal vitamins (about $30 total), some maternity clothes (all used, some given to me, so we only spent about $35), and the healthcare costs. I will be getting a breast pump, but that's paid for by my insurance. That's it, and with it we have enough stuff to see her at least through her first six months, except for bottles and I'll probably ask for those for Christmas. (We'll need those, at the latest, when I go back to work.) Wouldn't you be amazed and grateful for all of that help? I am so, so lucky to have such a supportive network of people around me and I just hope that I can pass the helpfulness along when more of my friends start having babies.
Finally, I have the dates my mother will visit! I'm excited for all of the other family who will be here for Thanksgiving, of course, but my mom has been so amazingly helpful through everything. Calming, sympathetic when I need it, and (after having four kids of her own) so knowledgeable. She, more than just about anyone else, has given off the vibe of, "What do you need from me? What can I do that will be most helpful for you and Shane as new parents?" (Rather than, "How often can I see the baby? It's all about the baby! BABY!!!!!") So she'll be here for two weeks to help out and I really couldn't be more excited.

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