Pregnancy can be a wonderful time filled with so much excitement. You download those apps that tell you each day what part of your baby is developing and the size of your baby by comparison to some random vegetable. Its informative, I for sure had never heard of a heirloom tomato prior to this, I mean what kind of freak tomato is between the size of a bell pepper and banana anyway?!
You feel magical, you are growing a human inside you and although you always knew that’s what humans have done since the dawn of time you still feel like some miracle superhuman when your body does it.
And you don’t have to worry about your body. For the first time you have a protruding belly and you don’t care. You start wearing things you would never normally dream of. No baggy T-shirts for me, hell no, body hugging lycra dress- yes please! Have my belly hanging out of a bikini? Why not! I Mean everyone and their dog is telling me I’m glowing after all…. and you probably are in comparison to the pale sickly state you were for the first 6-12 weeks when all you wanted to do is vom.
That second trimester is great. You stop feeling sick unless you are one of the really unfortunate ones who suffers with hyperemesis gravidarum. You start showing so you no longer look like you’ve been on a burger bender and you are sleeping better. Your hair gets thicker and lusher, and you are more confident in your body.
Its at this stage that for some reason this glory you are experiencing seems to draw out some sadistic need in others to scare the living s**t out of you. Its like they see you, all mother earth and fabulous and are like, right, now is the time this bitch really needs to know what’s going to happen. She needs this reality check, right now while she’s at her peak.
First of all it starts with disarmament. The smiles and questions about when you are due and how wonderful it is, then SMACK like a sucker punch they start to tell you the horror story of their birth, the birth story from hell and the train wreck that is their mangled undercarriage
They reassure you its all amazing and they love their children dearly but then spend 15 minutes recounting to you the sleepless nights, the stress of their daily lives, the demanding nature of their children and how their relationship with their partner is equivalent to passing ships in the night. Then as quick as this ambush is executed it ends with a cheery, “hahaha you’ll be fine though I’m sure. Congratulations”, then they leave you, reeling from the account.
Its weird, you don’t seem to hear any GOOD birth stories. Its like the sight of your ever expanding baby bump is a beacon for mothers to debrief and disclose their despair.
Not only is your mind free for the ransack, so is your body. For the first time in your life it is all of a sudden socially acceptable for people to rock up and put their hands on your belly. I mean imagine any other situation where people come along and touch peoples belly! Its like one of the main no go areas and parts of our body we least like being touched. I personally don’t even like my partner touching my tummy. It’s an area many people are self conscious about. Complete randoms come up to you and touch your tummy with no thought of it. Friends, family, colleagues, random old ladies in the street!
What is it with a pregnant belly that people need to touch?! So weird. Some people do at least ask first, but still there is this universal need to touch it, like to see if its real or something.
Oh and the questions! The mystic, superstitious and psychic predictions about the gender of your unborn child. For generations people have utilised old wives tales, tricks and different symptoms or physical attributes about your pregnancy to predict the gender and this I can just about deal with, even though I personally don’t believe it, but what I found the strangest was people asking me what I thought I was having.
“Do you have a feeling about what you are having?” “does it feel like a boy or a girl?”
What?!? What on earth do you mean ‘a feeling?’ Yeah I feel I’m having a human baby! Other than that I got nothing!!!!
Then along with the question of gender are the inevitable question of what you intend to name the baby. And everyone is so excited to share their ideas of what you should call them.
My own mother personally went to the extreme lengths of handwriting me a whole list of names she felt were acceptable for her grandchild. Hilarious!!!
We deliberately decided not to share our list of potential names with people in the end, purely because people appear to have absolutely no filters when it comes to speaking with pregnant people.
You share a name that you are fond of and instantly its destroyed in an avalanche of negative associations. “oh no Luke, everyone will call him puke!”, “Rosemary? Like the serial killer?” “oh my cousins best friends partner was called that and he is an arsehole”! And the name you had your heart on is ruined.
It’s all very odd, when you introduce yourself people never go through this process. Ha could you imagine? “Your name is Johnny? As in Johnny no mates?”
Once you get to the last trimester and you are seriously showing and obviously pregnant with no scope for error, that’s when a new wave of fun comes your way. “Wow you look ready to pop” “when is baby due? You look like you could give birth any minute”…. Ok then, not glowing anymore then eh? Look like a woman bursting at the seams? Cheers!
This does nothing to hold back any anxiety you already have from all the freaky birth stories either. You now not only need to worry about the bloodbath that could be the birth but now the possibility it could come at any point with no warning.
People on transport can be real treats too. I had to commute into central London for work, on packed rush hour trains and people would just feign blindness. I’d be wearing my baby on board badge giving the whole carriage death stares and hating the universe and people would raise their newspapers to cover their eyes. If you were lucky enough to get a seat and be at the window, when you needed to get off there would always be the arseholes who would shimmy their legs to the side, expecting that by some miracle you could squeeze past them with your belly the size of a whale.
One time on my way back from work on a busy train I was standing in the isle wedged between the toilet cubicle and some pig excuse for a human who was huffing and puffing at me while he read. It was packed I couldn’t move and I was so tired. I must have been about 8 months pregnant and this guy genuinely turned to me and said “can you get your bump out of my face?!” I could not believe the absolute audacity. I mean if he had any humanity he would have offered me the seat anyway. Initially I was too nervous and polite to say anything in response to such mean spirited people but by the end of my pregnancy I was taking no more of this BS! Unbeknownst to this guy I was about to unleash 4 months of stored rush hour pregnancy injustice rage. I stared at him and at the top of my voice so as to cause the biggest scene I could I said “oh I am so sorry, is my unborn baby in your face? Wait a minute, I’ll ask him to crawl back inside my body as far as he can!”. He just looked at me and lifted his book back up covering his face.
Not everyone was like that though, there were also lots of thoughtful and kind people. One couple every single morning on my train, if nobody got up they would get up and offer me their seat, even though they were always sat at the extreme other end of the carriage from where I got on. I never forgot them.
Those last weeks of pregnancy can be tough. You are super uncomfortable, my hips were achy and I would sleep at night with a fortress of pillows around me and between my legs for support. My partner relegated to the edge of the bed. By the time I got comfy I was back up to pee. Man you pee a lot towards the end. Its really a design flaw because you need that sleep to bank for the months and years of sleepless nights ahead, but nature is like “haha the deprivation shall begin now!”. Nature is a dick!
But of course its all worth it, because an amazing thing happens and this little human enters your life, bringing with it unimaginable amounts of love and adoration. Its everything you ever dreamed of and more. It makes all the pregnancy wackness worth it.
I just hope I don’t end up one of those people, seeing the pregnancy belly beacon, like a moth to the flame, sharing the horror show that was my birth, and crapping all over other people’s name choices.