Friday, April 18, 2014

Notes on Being Visibly Pregnant

I am usually the only one in the room. Or, I feel weirdly competitive with another pregnant lady in front of me in line at the grocery store.

My shape is an instant ice breaker that inspires the same series of questions: "how are you feeling; when are you due; what is the sex; have you picked a name." Sometimes people ask if everyone touches my stomach. Remarkably, only one lady, a Latina who cleans my office, placed her hands on my belly without asking first, and I did not mind. In fact, I felt an emotional connection with her and almost transported to some other time period or culture where women are not afraid of each other.

Invariably, after the formality of these questions are out of the way, the next part of the conversation is about someone that person knows who is also or was once pregnant. A sister, a friend, a wife, a coworker. And then I hear either a horror or fantasy story about emergency room visits or 20 minute deliveries.

No one is satisfied with the answer "I'm fine" or even "I'm great" ... I must elaborate. My general nature is to talk about myself at length, so I can easily go on to say "I'm tired" and "I'm sore" ... and, more rarely, "I'm bored" with this topic.

Ironically, my peers often encourage me to order a beer or at least offer "you can have a glass of wine!" They don't understand that I do not want one. I don't want one in the way that you don't want another french fry when you are too full. You know it's delicious, but you just don't have the appetite for it.

I hear regularly how thin I look which I know is meant as flattery but really comes across as insult to the many women who gain noticeable weight in their faces and arms or who were rotund before pregnancy. I have not mentioned to anyone (maybe only one friend) that my inner thighs chafe from rubbing against each other and that I worry I haven't eaten enough of the right food for the baby.

My dietary restrictions are not aligned with the popular farm-to-fork movement. I am advised against eating anything unpasteurized (soft cheeses, artisanal bottled juices), anything raw (poached eggs, sashimi), anything with mercury (big fish, medium fish). I take a daily iron supplement along with a multi-vitamin and folic acid. I'm advised to also ingest 100 grams of protein everyday, eat leafy greens, high fiber grains, fruits and other nutrient rich plants, while this creature inside me grows and cramps the space for all this food in my stomach. I literally can't fit it all in me.

The biggest surprise, even beyond all the miracle of life stuff, is how much my husband cares about every detail. He does not bore of what the baby is doing right now or what the doctor said or how annoyed I am about whatever happened today. He is not angry when I wake us both up in the middle of the night with my inability to get comfortable. He does not complain about having to do the bulk of the house work.

Being pregnant is special but obviously not uncommon. On the surface, I'm over it, but deep down, I'm savoring every moment.