Friday, December 6, 2013

pregnancy FAQ

Q: Aren't you worried about the dogs around the baby?

A: No. My dogs are neither vicious, nor unexposed to small children, nor so dim that they would fail to recognize that a creature is a) helpless b) important and c) a member of the pack. Frankly, the dogs will probably have a lot more patience with the baby than I will. 

Q: How much weight have you gained?

A: All of it, apparently, but since you're not my doctor, you don't get a numerical answer. (And yes, I have been asked this question by people who are not my, or anyone else's, doctor.)

Q: Don't you feel beautiful?

A: I used to have a twenty-six-inch waist. 

Q: But pregnancy is a woman's most beautiful / natural / womanly condition!

A: That is SO offensive to women who choose not to or cannot have biological children. Please don't ever say that.

Also, I am thirty-seven years old, have gone through cancer treatment, and was single until last year. I had pretty much given up hope of ever having children, when I have known my whole life that I want them. And here I am, growing a human being. The idea that we, as a society, need to constantly reassure pregnant women that they are actually hotter now than they've ever been seems to me a strange set of priorities in the face of the literally awesome biological process my body is experiencing. It's the difference between grudging your way through a workout or a run out of a desperate desire to be thin, and doing said workout or run for the sake of and delight in what your body can do. When I feel the baby kick, it's like finishing a workout that I previously wasn't strong enough to complete: wow, my body can do this. Really, whether men now find me more desirable than ever (which I've seen several books claim they do) is not factoring greatly into my sense of wonder here. 

Q: Does that mean you are totally cool with your body and your weight gain?

A: HA HA HA. Seeing a number on the scale that I had never seen before, and then being told that that number was "over the line" in terms of acceptable weight gain by the nutritionist, has me in a tailspin. Even though that weigh-in was four days after returning from a week spent at the most delicious restaurants in Santa Fe, when under ANY circumstances I would have gained about eight temporary pounds. Even though my body-fat percentage pre-pregnancy was crazy low, to an extent that I couldn't healthily sustain in pregnancy. I can come up with a dozen logical arguments why I shouldn't worry about this, and still all I hear in my head is someone telling me I weigh too much.  

Q: How gassy are you?

A: Level: Hindenburg.

Q: Does being pregnant increase your chances of the cancer recurring?

A: Yes. An increase of estrogen in the body is not a good idea when you had estrogen-receptor-based cancer. If there were any cancer cells left in my body post-treatment, pregnancy will give them a boost. If there weren't, I should be fine. There's really no way to know until I'm delivered and can resume screenings. I've kept all my OB care at the same hospital where I got cancer treatment, which provides me some peace of mind, although of course I go into hysterical panics now and then.

Q: Has your bladder betrayed you when you laugh yet?

A: No.

Q: What about when you sneeze?

A: I was home and in my pajamas, so it doesn't count.

Q: Is your hair growing as fast and gloriously as everyone says it will?

A: Not really. 

Q: What about your eyebrows and those weird mole hairs?

A: Like bamboo in the wet season.

Q: Have you stopped the self-destructive Googling?

A: ...Mostly. The idea of "acceptable weight gain" sent me back in that direction, I admit. I'm working on not doing stupid things like that.

Q: Are you going to eat the placenta?

A: Am I what?

Q: The eating of the placenta is a thing about which you have to have an opinion now, as part of your Birth Experience. Women blog about how they had postpartum depression because they were not allowed to eat the placenta (and apparently had no other access to the extra iron and protein that women need after childbirth, the lack of which they say caused the depression). Women blog about how they didn't have postpartum depression because they ate the placenta. Women blog about how their postpartum depression was caused by eating the placenta (because it was full of hormones). All the above groups of women are smug about how the placenta is at least "real food", a sentiment of which Alferd Packer would no doubt approve. 

A: I personally will be getting my postpartum nutritional requirements from food items which did not just come out of my uterus, because we live in an amazing society where things like "iron supplements" and "steak burritos" are widely available, but, you know, do what you want. Also, if you needed the nutrients in your placenta to successfully survive childbirth, wouldn't your body reabsorb it? Perhaps I have more faith in the body's current working design than these women do. 

Q: Are you convinced that anecdotes are contagious?

A: Yes. I was completely convinced that because I know someone who miscarried at nineteen weeks, it was more likely that I would miscarry at nineteen weeks than that someone else who doesn't know this person would. I genuinely believe that hearing (or reading about) terrifying pregnancy stories increases my odds of experiencing one myself. Which is why it's especially awesome that for every terrifying and obscure thing I found on the internet, one of my friends would say, "Oh, I had a friend who had that!" Seriously, it could have been something only experienced by six women a year worldwide, and one of my friends would know someone who had it, I'm not even kidding ("Ha, you'll never guess what I convinced myself I had last night while panic-googling: this thing called Malevolent -" "Malevolent Leaning Womb? Oh, my co-worker had that! She was bedridden for seventeen months and the leech expenses were outrageous!"). I was four months pregnant at our wedding because I was quite sure our friends' struggles with fertility meant we would struggle with it too, and so we should start trying long before the wedding. 

Q: Didn't you just say you have faith in the body's biological processes, rather than in magical thinking? 

A: I am large, I contain multitudes.  

Q: Yeah, multitudes of cheese, pudge-pants. 

A: Whatevs, you're just jealous because I'm At A Woman's Most Beautiful Stage. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to tend to my latest rash.  

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