Let’s start with this brilliant musical theatre duet:
I admit that I am pretty easily manipulated if you frame something in terms of my ego, for example, our household’s longstanding Quilt Challenge. My husband has very openly stated that he would love it if I would make a quilt, but he knows that I couldn’t do it. Despite this pathetically obvious attempt to use reverse psychology (in reality, my husband believes that I can do anything), I have totally fallen for it and I know damn well that someday I will make a quilt! My excuse now is that I don’t really have a sewing room or even a sewing spot and our cats would sleep on it and it’s actually really expensive to get started and I also don’t own a sewing machine.
But god damn it, I’m going to sew a quilt one day and make M Fox eat it.
The problem with pregnancy Dos and Don’ts is that it’s not just about your ego; your choices affect the life (or lives, in my case) of a blissfully ignorant little creature who is happily jabbing you in the cervix because it’s so excited that its limbs move. Awww.
There are the undebatable Don’ts — like you can’t chug a Long Island Iced Tea, shoot up some heroin, and then hop on Space Mountain.
To be fair, you probably shouldn’t do that when you’re not pregnant, but ESPECIALLY when you’re pregnant, such behavior is frowned upon.
The dietary Dos and Don’ts are mostly a matter of common sense and personal preference. Apparently you’re not supposed to eat cantaloupe, fro-yo, or turkey sandwiches. I say (and, remember, I am a doctor*) use your best judgment. If you want to live off of goldfish and the occasional grape (after drudging it in vinegar to get off the poison), then hey, go ahead. If, like a certain Classy Dame, you want to drink diet soda and gorge yourself on sushi, then hey, go ahead. Pregnancy safety is a matter of statistics and paying attention to statistics is, oddly enough, totally subjective. *No I’m not
But that’s a conversation that a lot of people have already talked themselves hoarse over.
The thing that I find most oppressive about pregnancy is the conversation that goes beyond eating, drinking, and going to Disneyland or Space Camp — it falls into either the pitying with concern (“How are you going to be able to do that?”) or the pitying with certainty (“You realize that you won’t be able to do that ever again”) category.
Let me start out by saying that no one is more aware of me being pregnant than I am. I get it. There are things that I just can’t do with ease anymore, like have a cohesive conversation or roll over in bed without grunting and using the side of the bed/my husband/the cat/the lamp as leverage.
I am not above cathartic hyperbolic rants, god knows, but I’m exhausted by the amount of “168 Things You’ll Never Enjoy Again After Your Baby is Born,” “389 Amazing Opportunities You’ll Miss Out on Now That You’re Having Twins,” “Sex After Pregnancy is Horrible — And Other Tales of Terror” articles that exist only to let you know that, under no circumstances, are you about to enjoy any part of your life now that you’re about to become a parent.
Oh, and almost every one of them ends with a weak, “But it’s all worth it in the end! Stick with it, mamas!”
Now, I’ve posted a couple “WHAT NO ONE TELLS YOU” posts regarding early pregnancy, so I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be real about this. Women talking openly and loudly about what society has deemed “feminine no-nos” is something I fully support. Miscarriage happens to 1 in 3 women and yet no one really can talk about it. Sometimes it feels like it’d be easier to admit you’ve killed a man with his own shoes than to admit that you’ve had a miscarriage. So, again, to be clear, I am not about censorship in any form. If you want to leave this blog and write a “101 Wonderful, Happy Memories That You Better Cherish Because You’ll Never Make a New One” post, be my guest.
I just won’t read it. I’m sick of being told what I can and can’t do before I even get to the point of calling “Uncle.” How does ANYONE know what I’m capable of? *I* don’t even know what I’m capable of! I mean, look, maybe they’re all right. Maybe I’ll never have sex with my husband again, we’ll be broke forever, our kidless friends will never visit, my parents and in-laws will constantly meddle, I’ll lose all sense of individuality, my personal goals will never be reached, my house will be disaster (well, too late), I’ll never take a shower, and I won’t even TRY natural birth/cloth diapering/having a hobby/breastfeeding/cooking my own meals/enjoying anything because it will NEVER happen, you poor naive dolt!
But why the hell would I want to set myself up for that? Why perpetuate this narrative that everything is going to suck and be hard and so you better give up on life, love, and hot meals for orphans? You want to help out incoming mamas by telling it like it is? How about “10 Things That Unexpectedly Came Up and How I Dealt With Them” instead of cavalierly leveling aspirations? I’m so irritated with people checking to see if I’ve started mourning my life yet. I know this is going to be different. It will probably be difficult. (“HAHA, ‘probably’?! No, it IS going to be difficult, you guileless twit!”) But must I act as if my life is already over?
Because maybe, just maybe, THEY’RE NOT RIGHT. Here are a few radical thoughts: what if my twins start sleeping through the night at three months? What if I don’t have any problems breast feeding? What if I am perfectly able to be in a play and be a great mother at the same time?
How about instead of laughing at these ideas (seriously, I’ve had people who barely know me actually laugh when I told them how I plan to continue being me), offer some advice or, if you can’t possibly, some encouragement? What would the world look like if women–because, sorry, ladies, but most of the nay-saying comments I get are from women–actually believed in each other? Or at least kept our self-righteous disbelief that this unworldly fool actually thinks she’s going to be able to do something outside of eat and pump to ourselves?
It’s one thing to expect the best and prepare for the worst, but I walk away from these negative-under-the-guise-of-funny articles feeling that the audacity of expecting the best is wasting precious energy that could be used for building my babies’ eyelashes.
I’m going to have these babies and continue being on the board of a musical theatre company, and be an assistant producer for another company, and be a first-time producer of a staged concert version of 1776, and if you don’t think I can do it, then I’ve got 55 Ways You Can Keep It to Your Own Damn Self.
And if I can’t do it, or if I can only do some of it, or if I need to back away for awhile, or if I need to (GASP) ask for help, then that’s okay. I’ll still be sure to cheer on a mom who wants to study for the bar exam with a toddler and another on the way. Because I believe she can.