19 December 2007

Random Thoughts On Something With Which I Have Absolutely No First-Hand Experience

I am surrounded by pregnant people. Half the members of my book club. My aunt. My sister-in-law. Lily Allen. Britney Spears's 16 year-old sister. Angela from The Office. Which means I've been thinking about it a lot more than I usually would. Which is nearly never, except for when Scully was pregnant on The X-Files and I determined that alien baby or no, pregnancy was a parasitic relationship. Apparently, many people find that philosophy offensive. To whom I say, "Really? Have you seen what happens to pregnant women?" And then they spew forth scriptural references about the sacredness of life and its creation. I do not dispute the sacredness that is new life and its creation. What I dispute is the assumption that just because the new life created is sacred, the entire process is sacred and therefore delightful, beautiful, and something for which a women should be grateful every single second. And here is why:

From puberty, one week out of every four of a woman's life is spent feeling gross, bloaty, and fat. And that is the least obnoxious part. In addition to the bloat, one's complexion erupts regardless of bank-breaking facial treatments, complicated morning and nightly riturals, and abject begging. The dress that made one look and feel like the beautiful, self-possessed woman one is five days ago, suddenly makes one look and feel like the ballet-dancing hippopotamus from Fantasia. Those who were merely annoying last week now stand a very real chance of being strangled where they stand. One is hyper-aware of every muscle, joint, and organ between one's shoulders and knees. Now, take this week-long discomfort and multiple it by 40. "But wait," you say, "that is 10 months, not 9." Yes, my friends, one of the dirty, little secrets of pregnancy is the myth that it lasts 9 months. It does not. It lasts 10. The pregnant one is only really sure of it for 9. In addition to multiplying that uncomfortable week by 40, one also has to increase the discomfort exponentially as those 40 weeks progress. Not only does the pregnant one feel gross, bloaty, and fat, but various parts of her body begin to swell at various rates. Multiple hormones race through the blood stream, meaning the pregnant one never knows what state her complexion or her mood will be in when she wakes up. The pregnant one's body shape also changes on a daily, possibly even hourly, basis ensuring that the clothes she put on in the morning will be unbearably uncomfortable by lunch. And, there really is no sure-fire way to flatter a figure that appears to have a magically expanding basketball strapped to the lower abdomen. Then, towards the end of the 40 weeks, the pregnant one's muscles and joints start to prepare to push something the size of a small watermelon out of itself. This ensures that the pregnant one can't even depend on her ability to walk, something she has done since the age of 1.

Thus, the pregnant one begins labor. Which, from what I have heard, is the most humiliating experience I could ever face. And, I fell into a manhole in front of the love of my junior high life. Not only is one at least half-naked in front of as many medical staff as one's doctor deems necessary, but one is fat and half-naked in front of as many medical staff as one's doctor deems necessary. One sweats off any make-up one might have on and one hasn't been able to dye one's hair for 40 weeks, so one has massive roots. Also, one is in pain. Which never brings out the best in one. Another dirty, little secret is that when one is pushing to get the baby out, other things come out. Unless one undergoes an enema. The word you are looking for is 'EW!' Even the arrival of the baby does not signal an end. There is the whole experience of breast-feeding, which I will not get into, even though I could (just ask Miss Parker) because I took a class called the International Political Economy of Women and a whole section was dedicated to the economical and political implications associated with the act of breast-feeding. The point being that once a child is conceived, the mother's body is not her own, and won't be until that child moves out of the house. And even then, there was research done that showed fetal cells in women's blood streams up to 21 years AFTER childbirth.

Not only is the pregnant one's body not her own physically, the entire world assumes that because her abdomen protrudes, it is now public domain. How often have you heard anyone's first question to a pregnant woman be about anything other than her pregnancy? Or even the fifth or sixth question? I dare you to go up to the next pregnant woman you see and ask her about the upcoming Presidential election. And then watch how the people around you react. Last week at book club, where the stated purpose of the gathering is to discuss the book, we spent 15 minutes on the book and an hour and a half on the various stages of pregnancy being experienced by half our members. I kid you not. Even more disconcertingly, others treat the pregnant one's abdomen like a petting zoo. Strangers touch it. People who would never dream of rubbing a flat abdomen find nothing wrong with stroking a perfect stranger's pregnant one. How is that acceptable?

For all these reasons, and some more that I won't elaborate on because they have more to do with my own psychosis than general experience, I find the idea of pregnancy to be unappealing at best. Some might suggest that I'm a bitter, cynical Singleton who has no idea what she is talking about. They might be right. But the idea that the state of pregnancy, the actual physical experience, is a beatific state of never-ending bliss might also be a gigantic diaper-load of crap.

11 comments:

Mime said...

You really should think about publishing some of these. I have decided that whenever a stranger rubs Mrs. Mimes belly I am going to rub theirs to see what they do. Weird I know but they won't do it again. In regards to the Religious comments, just because it is parasitic doesn't mean that the end parasite is bad. Just the journey there. Mrs. Mime says that you can't go out in public or anywhere where there are any kind of smells (which may be normally objectionable or not) to keep yourself from upchucking. So are therefore confined to your little bubble which even then does not guarantee no puking it just gives you the ability to do it in a private and not public situation

cherbear said...

I have to agree with you Scully. It is a parasitic relationship. Parasitic just has such negative connotations that people can't handle it. How about symbiotic? Is that better? Anyway, I didn't have much of a problem with my pregnancy so I didn't mind so much being pregnant. I never had morning sickness, lucky I know, but I did have major migraines which left me incapacitated for days and racing home from work before I spewed all over the car, which I actually did once. I only had one uninvited person touch my stomach and I wasn't totally offended so I got off lucky there too. I did have huge swollen feet and legs and hands for a couple of months. That was hell. But the worst was being in labor for three days and nothing was done about it until the third day because there was no room at the hospital. And another humiliating aspect of labor was being completely drugged up and out of it, unable to control my speech or thoughts or anything really. And getting up to go to the bathroom with an IV stuck in your arm is fun too. The best part about the whole experience was finally being able to hold my son, whom I had waited 41 long weeks, and all my adult life, for.

cherbear said...

Oh and we should probably tell our young girls the truth about pregnancy and labor and maybe we won't have so many teen pregnancies.

Accidental Housewife said...

Amen! You are brilliant . . . and, oh so right!
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine told me how much she loved being pregnant. My first, unfiltered response was, "are you on crack???" She wasn't amused.
As for the belly rubbing, I've tried everything to curtail it - the tuck and roll, rubbing the offending parties belly in return . . . nothing seems to stop the insane behavior. And, don't even get me started on the "verbal belly rubs." The assaults start early.

Heather said...

I have had fears similar to these in the past.. I didn't think it through quite as much as you, but I was not looking forward to the whole pregnancy thing..

but take the ability to become pregnant entirely away from the woman and it's surprising how absolutely crappy that is too.

It appears we can not win! the stork idea is sounding really good to me right about now.

Katie said...

If someone EVER feels the need to touch my belly without an invitation, pregnant or not, I will be forced to hurt them. SERIOUSLY!!! You have elaborated on some of my ultimate "child-bearing" fears. I'm way excited to have children eventually...but the pregnancy part has never sounded too delightful.

cherbear said...

I think slapping the hand of the offending belly rubber would be the effective way to go. Hey, they think they can rub your belly, why can't I slap their hand in return?

ZB said...

Okay, been pregnant 2 times. And I'm so very glad that I'm not currently. But...I have to say that I think that I've lost most of my memory due to this blessed event. So, therefore, I can't remember many many things...including being pregnant.

heidi said...

I'm with Heather on the stork idea sounding really good! I remember I used to always say that I was going to adopt my children b/c there was no way I was going to go through child birth! I have been so lucky with my pregnancies (this being my third and probably the hardest yet). But, the thing that makes it worth it is feeling the baby move inside of you. You realize the miracle before you see him/her in person. It has been hard to watch all of my friends who have been struggling to have children and I feel bad for those who have hard pregnancies, but seeing the ultrasounds and feeling this little girl move inside would so be worth any obstacles!!! Of course, I've never experienced upchucking in public, migrains, or belly rubbing by anyone but my hubby and kiddos!!! I'm sure I would have the slap reaction w/o a close realationship and prior warning!!! (esp during this pregnancy b/c there is a little more to my belly this time aROUND-no pun intended!)

aquamarine said...

I hate being pregnant! There I said it, which make one wonder at my sanity level, seeing as I have done it four time...hehehe. On the other hand, I would agree with Heidi, there are some experiences that far out way the discomfort of everything associated with babies. This might sound weird, but I have told eminent tummy rubbing offenders to "watch out, it bites." Works like a charm. LOL

katharine said...

i'm sorry for the waves of pregnant people surrounding you. it annoys me too, though i was so recently liberated from being one of them.

i hate the grumpy monster i become when i'm pregnant. i can't exercise to deal with my stress so it multiplies - and i have to self-medicate with dozens of cookies and eat foods i don't really like because the baby is craving them (pork?!). and i start to hate the foods i used to love (changing from day to day). my joints ache, i can't bend over, can't sleep on my stomach (or just plain can't sleep), and i gain tons of extra weight (52 lbs!! for a 9-lb. baby). it's okay to hate pregnancy - it is totally parasitic. the mother gets absolutely nothing from the fetus.

but i do love babies and it is sure hard to get them any other way.