The Un-Mommy Blog
Gentle readers, I feel the need to share that I have zero intentions of becoming a mommy blogger. I don’t plan on being the be-all, end-all expert on strollers, diapers, or napping. I don’t plan on sharing poop stories. I will be the best mom I can, but the point here is that it’s all future tense. My present tense is what craves commentary.
Ever read those surveys that scientifically prove the obvious? The ones that report things like drivers with guns are more prone to road rage (Accident Analysis and Prevention, Jan. 2006) or that “Beer Goggles” really exist (Bausch & Lomb press release, Nov 2005). You laugh until you realize the money that went into the work, the laboratories, and the salaries of the Ph.D.s. Then you wonder why didn’t you think of it first.
There are the things that almost everyone seems to experience. Traffic. Bad customer service. Travel woes. The search for the perfect jeans or the perfect mate. The experiences tend to be universal and we have universal expressions. Pissedconsumer.com is a repository of cranky sports. Most newspapers feature ombudsmen who will fight your battles for you with names like “The Haggler,” since no company wants a reporter mad, especially a reporter with the platform to tell thousands about the experience.
But there’s a certain experience, mostly favoring one gender (except for a guy in Oregon) where complaints are not well received. No one wants to hear the bitching and moaning of a woman, let alone a pregnant woman. So my point here is to “out” a common issue and my plea here does not go so far as sympathy, but perhaps more understanding–understanding that pregnancy sucks.
Pregnancy Sucks. Yes I said it.
For current mothers, the attitude is, “been there, done that, suck it up.” For want-to-be mothers, the attitude is, “be thankful you can reproduce, suck it up.” For everyone else, the attitude is, “you wanted a kid, now suck it up.” And for some it’s, “How could you not love every moment of creating new life?”
It’s kind of funny actually. There’s a bit of amnesia that hits mothers around the 6 month mark, when their babies start to sleep through the night, coo in the cutest ways, and are fun to have around. I have many dear friends who are moms. I still have a mom and a grandma too. But no one tells you how bad it is–and I’m still 4 months from labor. A few mention the ick of morning sickness and the holy grail cure of saltine crackers but that’s about it. I do realize that I have very little perspective here. I’m inside the situation and I literally can’t see it from the outside nor from what awaits because I think having a child is one of those things where you can’t approximate the experience. And I also realize that not everyone cares. To some, I’m just a passing curiosity in the supermarket: is she pregnant or just fat?
Pregnancy is like a 9 month college degree. There’s a lot to learn, midterms along the way, and a final exam. Like in college, some friends tell you what reading you can skip and still pass. Others are bookworms, absorbing every word. Some professors (doctors) conflict in philosophy. But unlike college, it’s not like you have to regurgitate his or her published theory to get an “A.” You do have to figure out what works for you, however. Some wine or none? Diet soda? Peanuts? And crossing your fingers hoping for good results never hurts.
One thing about pregnancy that rarely said out loud, though, is that it’s not really all that fun. And this is coming from a person who is an eternal optimist and a bit of a dreamer. It gets pretty heady when you stop and think about the responsibility taken on: from 18 years of support to the loftier concept of expanding the human race to the lottery-type dreams of producing a President or Super Bowl winner. (I’m hoping for the fourth Cornell grad in the family)
In her book, “Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy,” Jenny McCarthy exposed a lot of the yuckiness. There’s actually a book entitled, “Pregnancy Sucks: What to Do When Your Miracle Makes You Miserable,” by Joanne Kimes. Other bloggers here and there are on the bandwagon, but the majority of moms wax poetic about how wonderful it is to have the privilege of being lucky enough to experience the miracle of life. Many message boards are just plain saccharine about the “best” way to spell “Ashley” and baby showers. Blech.
Google® Won’t Find it for You
Even Google’s auto-completer in its search engine DOES NOT complete “Pregnancy sucks.” You get “Pregnancy sushi” and “Pregnancy Success Stories.”
I think there are at least 5 things that really suck and men can even relate to some:
1. You work very hard to get the body you want and *poof* it’s gone. (For a guy, it might be too many pizzas in football season that lead to extra pounds. But he skips dessert for a week and he’s fine.)
2. You don’t have the energy you need or want. Whether you want to run a marathon, work a 12-hour-a-day job, heck, even watch Comedy Central at 11:30pm, you can’t. A caffeine jolt for help? Well, a little is ok, but that old 10-cup-a-day habit has to go.
3. You don’t sleep well. No matter what you try. I slept better the night before the Biology AP exam, the nights before I moved to cities where I didn’t know a soul, and the night before my wedding. Practice for sleepless nights ahead? Hardly, when I still have to work, meet deadlines, and stay sharp. With a newborn, you’re not expected to do anything but take care of the baby. That’s why there’s maternity leave.
4. You forget everything. Little things like where your keys are. And big things like you’re actually pregnant! I was reminded at yesterday’s spin class when my thighs were bumping my belly. Or when I had a complete 20 minute conversation and planned how I was going to get myself on the communications staff for Andrew Cuomo’s yet-to-be announced New York gubernatorial campaign. Uh–how exactly would that work with a July baby and a November election? It won’t.
5. You can’t ___. Fill in the blank. It changes every day as you discover a growing belly gets in the way of more than seeing your feet.
Like an Oscar Nominee, I Am So Thankful to be Nominated
I do realize that I have a lot for which to be thankful. Many women who want kids don’t or can’t have them. Whether it’s fertility issues, age, biology, or adoption challenges, it doesn’t matter when you want to be a mom. Worse, others have had kids and lost them. At 37, I felt like my ovaries were slowly shriveling with little useful time left. But like Jeff Bridges whose time may have come later in life or Susan Lucci for whom it did, I feel very lucky. So far. But I haven’t given birth to a healthy baby yet. I have signed up for every test I can to check for abnormalities and sweated the time from the test to results. (They tell you the delay is because the lab is in New Mexico. I think that’s bunk. FedEx anyone?)
You’re told the percentage chance of your child-to-be having any number of disorders from Downs Syndrome to Trisomy 18. I know many now-Baby Boomer parents drank and smoked through their pregnancies and my contemporaries are highly functioning, contributing members of society. But that doesn’t make me wonder if the pot I smoked in college will have repercussions now. While all the research says that running through pregnancy is fine if you were a runner before, I decided to stop. Why? Because if something were to go wrong, I’d hate to wonder if all that bouncing was a contributing factor.
Who IS This Person?
I’m not like this. I don’t make big decisions lightly, but I do enjoy life teetering on the edge. I only applied to a single graduate school. I used to own a motorcycle. I love roller coasters and trying food I’ve never had before. I enjoy travel near or far, without an itinerary. I like forks in the road.
I’m not depressed. I’m excited by the prospect of giving birth, having a kid, and expanding our family beyond our beloved dog. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 10-20% of pregnant women are depressed. A new study to be in the March issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology out of Stanford University found that acupuncture alone was a helpful treatment for antepartum depression. So beyond drugs, there’s more verified help out there for those in need. Good news for my fellow pregos.
Most of the time, you’ll never know it sucks. It’s like when someone asks you, “How are you?” Based on the relationship, you have to gauge whether the answer is “Fine, how are you?” or “Gosh, this sucks.”
It reminds me of a time when we whispered “cancer.” When there was that silly Politically Correct trend in the 80s, euphemizing everything. Some argue we’re in a “TMI” (too much information) trend now, which is true. Not sure I really want to see other people’s child births on YouTube or read emails from Ex-Governors’ and pro-golfers’ former prostitutes. I’m just saying that when it comes to pregnancy, women can be better served by a healthy dose of honesty among each other.