10 things not to say to this pregnant woman

Are you seriously asking me that?

1. Are you scared?

Of what? Of the dark? Yeah a little. I never quite outgrew that. When I have to sleep alone, I totally don’t dim the lights the whole way. Oh of becoming a parent? Scared is not the word. I’m excited, but I’m aware there will be a lot of challenges and frustrations, but I expect more positives than negatives, so I’m choosing to focus on the positives. Oh, scared of labor? No, the baby has to come out. I knew this before I decided to get pregnant. Oh not of labor in general but of the pain? No, should I be? I mean does being scared and fixated on an unknown amount of pain make it better cause to me that seems like that sort of focus would make it worse.

2. Your feet!

Yes, those are my feet. Yes, they are swollen. No, they aren’t that bad. Yes, I’m ready for them not to be swollen. Let’s keep going around stating the obvious some more. My belly is round. My skin is brown. I still can sure enough get down.

Turns out I'm still myself despite the whole gestating thing.

3. You must be miserable.

Well I do live in a town I’m ready to leave and I am working just a job instead of the career I went to school for. And my husband is still working on a PhD that I thought would be over by now, and I did have two of my chickens die in the last year and I’m sad every time I look at my flock because there seems to be too few, but am I miserable? Oh you mean about being pregnant? No, I’m not miserable. Yes I’m heavier than I’ve ever been, but I’m carrying a full-term baby and all the things that have sustained his life for the last 37 weeks. That’s not misery; that’s amazing. Sure I can’t sleep how I want, and I’m too slow and heavy to work out like I normally would, but I’m pregnant. I expected my body and my life to change as part of the process. I also recognize it’s a process with an end date. It’s not forever. Discomfort is part of being pregnant, but I haven’t been miserable. I’ve been pregnant, and it’s a temporary condition.

4. Homebirth weirds me out. I mean I know people have had babies for centuries without hospitals…

Elective c-sections weird me out. Inductions weird me out. Nurseries that separate babies from moms weird me out. IVs weird me out. Only being allowed ice chips weirds me out. The idea of taking drugs that could prolong my labor, drop my baby’s heart rate, and do a number of known and established side effects weird me out. Strangers coming and going who have a lot of other people to take care of and work in an assembly line manner weird me out. I know our birthing choice isn’t the most popular right now, but I’m never quite sure what people want from me when they say this. Do they want me to convince them? Honestly, I have no interest in that just as I have no interest in being convinced I need to give birth in a hospital. I assume most people are as informed and educated as they chose to be about their birth process, and they have chosen what works best for them and their family. I don’t know why people don’t assume the same for us.

5. You’re not going to make it. / I bet you can get that tax credit baby.

I’m so glad it’s 2012 now because this nonsense has finally stopped. True, a tax break would have be nice, but not having a preterm baby is sure nicer. I have to wonder how much net money we’d save after factoring in the hospital costs of delivering a preterm baby versus how much of a credit we’d be given, especially considering I’m already having an inexpensive homebirth. It always seemed like the “you’re not going to make it comments” were about my petite stature. Well surprise, a 5-foot-1-and-a-half-inch-tall woman who didn’t weigh enough to give blood pregnancy can take a pregnancy to term. Being short and fit does not mean my body is incapable.

6. You’re still at work?

Yes, still am. I will be at work until I can no longer work. Unfortunately maternity leave benefits at least at MSU are not as generous as people think, and since I am the breadwinner married to a graduate student on a stipend, we don’t have the financial luxury to take copious amounts of time off. I’m often told I should be at home resting, but when I say, “Sure I’ll do that if you’ll pay my bills” no one takes me up on the offer. Besides I feel fine. I’d rather be at work getting more done right now. It passes the time, and I get paid and continue to earn leave I’ll need to be able to take off time to stay with my baby once he’s here.

7. You’re still pregnant?

I’m only 37/38 weeks. Yes, I’m still pregnant. No, my doctor hasn’t told me when he’ll induce. See #4. Yes, I’m ok. See #3. No reason to stop by and ask me every day if I’m still pregnant. If my light is on and my door is open and I’m at my desk working, then yes, I’m still pregnant.

I can still hold downward dog for 2 minutes.

8. Is that safe for you to be doing?

If I didn’t think it were safe, why would I be doing it? Oh, what they’re saying is they don’t think I should be doing this. This usually relates to some physical activity like yoga or even traveling earlier on in the pregnancy. I must have missed the memo that I was supposed to sit on my rump for 40 weeks and watch tv. Life shouldn’t end with pregnancy. Labor is a physical activity. I plan on living my life and staying physical while listening to my body to know my limits.

9. I wish I got 12 weeks of paid leave to sit at home.

Me too, but I don’t. I get 12 weeks where my employer can’t fire me because I’ve had a baby and I’m not at work. If I want to get paid for that time, I have to have saved up leave I’ve earned at the same rate as all other employees. Oddly enough, I’m familiar with the procedure and forms because it’s the exact same coverage I got for when I got mono a few years ago. Don’t worry, no special treatment of pregnant women here. Also even men have access to FMLA which is for more than just the birth of a child.

10. You look like you’re about to pop / you’re so tiny.

Being pregnant has made me more aware than ever that everyone sees the world through his own filter, and quite often that filter is based on his own prior experiences. This week at the grocery store one person told me I looked like I was about to pop and literally a few minutes later someone expressed shock I was as far along as I was because I was just so tiny. What am I, stuck in Goldilocks? Too big, too small, too hot, too cold, naw, I’m pretty sure I’m just right for this pregnancy. I look like what I look like at this point in this pregnancy.

34/35 non-miserable weeks from the front

and from the back

 

 


33 Comments

  1. Alicia

    @ Sheena. The dogs run to be in the photos. It’s ridiculous. I must have trained them to think that if a photo is being taken, they should be in it.

  2. Danielle Durapau

    i LOVE this one, Alicia!!! i got so many silly questions, ESPECIALLY with my first pregnancy, because i was having twins!!! i have a question to add for those who had multiples…”Did you know you were having twins (triples, etc..)?” umm, yes. when i had my first ultrasound and saw the two (or more) babies in there, i knew. oh, you mean BEFORE that? no. i’m not psychic, sorry. LOL keep up the good work, Momma! :p

    • Rebecca M.

      I’m actually the 1-in-a-million weirdo who did NOT know I was carrying twins until I was 6 months pregnant. I was planning a homebirth and did not have any tests unless medically indicated, including ultrasound scans. For several reasons we “missed” the second baby and had no idea until I started measuring 4 weeks ahead and went for a scan. But I definitely had NO intuition or anything like that.

  3. Joy

    Thinking back, I generally tend to err on the side of caution when talking to pregnant women, but I might be guilty of some of the faux pas above. Has there been anything folks have said during this pregnancy that you were glad to hear?

    • Rebecca M.

      In the spirit of erring on the side of caution, my husband says that he doesn’t even assume a woman is pregnant, much less ask her any questions, unless he sees a baby crowning. :-)

  4. Joy G.

    !!! Enjoy your home birth! It hurts like hell, but you can do it. Also, the euphoria you’ll feel afterwards lasts for days, which is pretty cool.

    I also felt good until the end of pregnancy (even though I was about 300 million times ready by the time she got here)–remember how it feels! In a few months, you’ll be trying to remember what it was like to have that baby all curled up inside of you, and you won’t remember. It’s the weirdest thing!

    • Alicia

      @ Joy. At this point it’s hard to believe I’ll forget what pregnant feels like and it makes me a little sad to know you’re right. There’s something special about this time, feeling this life growing every day.

    • Alicia

      @ Jessica. It’s like these people have never been around babies and think that raising our next generation is unimportant. As a whole maternity and paternity benefits in this country are terrible.

  5. mary ann

    Alicia: You look terrific, and ‘not for being pregnant.’ I, for one, loved being pregnant, and if it weren’t for the repeat c-sections, might have had more than three, or had even considered being a surrogate. I always had a huge energy surge during pregnancy, and post-partum. And I swam, walked, ran, took care of other kids, shoveled snow, worked…did whatever needed to be done. Excited for you!

  6. Shoshana

    Love this post! I was a homebirth baby as were my two brothers and quite a few cousins and second cousins. I definitely believe in your right to choose and the process even though I haven’t had to make that decision for myself.

    • Alicia

      @ Shoshana. That’s so great for your mom and your family. And now I have yet more examples of successful homebirths since you and your siblings are so awesome.

  7. Sarah

    You look amazing!! And “just right” is right!! You don’t even look pregnant from behind, and that just means you are fit and healthy and awesome!!

    I think in general Americans are used to the idea of pregnant women needing to stay home and rest up and not “overdo” it. It kind of goes along with the unhealthy lifestyle and obesity thing really.. In general, Americans are programed to think women NEED to give birth in a hospital and NEED to have drugs and that there’s NO WAY a woman can give birth “naturally” let alone outside of a hospital or without an OB (read: SURGEON) there. It’s pretty sad and disheartening, but luckily those of us who adhere to a different way of thinking are able to educate ourselves, and have the options of things like a midwife, home birth, or birthing center. Giving birth is an empowering experience. It’s natural, and it’s normal, and it’s safe.

    With the great physical shape you’re in, I’m certain you will have a wonderful birthing. Your muscles will help push everything along a lot easier and possibly even quicker. You’re informed and educated on everything you need to know and have an excellent midwife to assist in the birthing process, not to mention Daniel will be an excellent birthing partner. You’re going to do great, and soon your beautiful baby boy will be in your arms!! I’m so excited for you both!!

    ~S

    • Alicia

      @ Sarah. It’s like that crazy idea that giving birth is the closest a woman ever gets to dying. Who started that nonsense? Whenever I hear it, I say no the closest you probably ever get to dying is every time you get in a car. You’re way more likely to die in a car wreck than giving birth.

      Birth is a natural, physiological process that doesn’t require surgery or interventions most of the time if we let the process happen and take care of ourselves before and during our pregnancies. With all the obesity and overweight issues and lack of physical health in general and what’s worse the idea of the easy way out (there is no easy way out), women have lost confidence in birth and are waiting to be rescued. Just like when people want to lose weight they think there’s some secret besides eating less and moving more. No, really it’s that simple. Be accountable for what you eat and how much you move and you’ll lose weight. No mysteries or magic pills.

  8. Michael S

    I am so happy to hear your comments and see such a positive attitude about pregnancy and motherhood. Being pregnant is not a sickness and doesn’t need to be treated as one. After my first two children were born in a hospital, I knew that there was something really horrible about the experience, but never understood that there were alternatives. My wife and I happened upon a documentary describing home births and after some investigation decided to give it a try. I was stunned at how much more pleasant and healthy the home birth was. She is now busy making number 4, and we plan on having him at home. I hope your message will help spread the word, that there are alternatives. There are probably thousands of Mississippians like my wife and I, that might make this choice if they were only aware that it is an option.

    • Alicia

      @ Michael Number 4! That’s so awesome. I plan on writing more about the whole homebirth process and using a midwife after our little guy gets here. I do want to be a part of educating others to the options out there. We saw probably the same documentary years ago, before we were even considering kids.

  9. Kate

    Alicia, a friend just shared this with me…lovely!!! I’m a childbirth educator and doula, so it’s right up my alley! Your body is amazing, strong, and made for giving birth. What a wonderful frame of mind. Your little guy’s birth will be the most amazing and empowering experience of your life. I found myself saying, “I’m not sick, I’m pregnant!” all the time. My first was born in a military hospital with a midwife, and my second was born at home with more midwives. My husband wasn’t 100% about the homebirth until afterwards. He says I looked like myself after it and looked like I’d been hit by a truck after the hospital birth. Midwifery (whole-woman) care is friggin’ awesome. Don’t know if y’all know about Mississippi Friends of Midwives, but they are raising awareness about homebirth in MS and trying to pass legislation to keep homebirth legal in MS. Enjoy your birth–the hard work, maybe the pain, the loving support of those around you, and the unmatched joy meeting your baby. Beautiful blogging…can’t wait to read your birth story.

    • Alicia

      @ Kate. I’m so glad you enjoyed your homebirth. I’m really looking forward to ours. I definitely feel the I’m not sick; I’m pregnant. I keep reminding people that I’m healthy. Very healthy.

      I love love love my midwife. She’s been a great medical adviser and friend.

      I do know about the MS Friends of Midwives. I’ve donated to them at our local farmer’s market and I follow them on facebook.

  10. Laura

    LOVE IT!!!! Also, I love the extra weight during pregnancy. I actually fill out my jeans :)

    I saw this shared on facebook several time today!

    • Alicia

      @ Laura. I do not love the extra weight and I miss my old clothes a lot. It is quite nice having boobs that fill out tops for the first time in my life. I guess we all learn to appreciate different aspects.

  11. Rebecca M.

    I loved, loved, LOVED this!!

    Personally, I *was* miserable at the end of my pregnancy with Nicholas, and went on leave at about 36 weeks when my blood pressure kept spiking. But I had not stayed physically active throughout the pregnancy like I should have. And I hated my job and was so stressed out every day. And it was the middle of winter in Michigan, which meant I went to work in the dark every morning, worried about falling on ice every time I went outside, and struggled with seasonal depression. But going on leave early meant that my leave was reduced by at least 4 weeks, more if I went past my “guess date.” With my last pregnancy, I wasn’t working outside the home, but I learned what “miserable” really was. I was in much better shape when I got pregnant this last time — at my goal weight and in good physical condition — but carrying 2 babies is hard on the body. And yet I chose to remain pregnant as long as I could instead of scheduling an induction just because I was “term,” and ultimately carried them to almost 39 weeks.

    I do think that pregnant women can benefit from having several weeks at the end of pregnancy to relax, rest, exercise, and prepare for birth and caring for a new baby. Most countries that have reasonable maternity leave policies also allow prenatal leave (in Italy it’s actually mandated). But I agree that if you have a low-stress job where you can get plenty to eat and drink, take frequent breaks, and have periods of sitting and moving around, then staying at work and keeping busy would be better than laying around at home (assuming you have the luxury of choice, which of course most women don’t).

    I also completely agree that, “Labor is a physical activity,” which makes staying active during pregnancy extra important. Unfortunately, for most women in this country, that maxim is just not true. They spend the most “active” part of their labor lying in a bed, numb from the waist down, not because it’s medically necessary or even because they really made an informed choice, but because they are scared and convinced they can’t possibly give birth without drugs and all the other “modern marvels” of birth technology. We have a LONG way to go in normalizing our society’s views of labor and birth. Hopefully your blog will help open some minds!

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