Apropos of nothing, I swear to God.
For the life of me, I can't figure out why the general public is so hot to tell first-time mothers every possible pregancy/delivery horror story. The shit random strangers said to me when I was pregnant with Perp would boggle your mind. When I tell people that--even with the general total-body trashing, the tears, and pooping in front of strangers--I actually liked labor, they generally look at me like I'm insane. It's not that it didn't hurt like hell, 'cause it surely did, but it was so exhilarating, like just about nothing I've ever experienced. I don't tell them the stories I heard ("My sister's husband's cousin's neighbor's cleaning lady was in labor for three and a half months and she split in half!"). I tell them how amazing women's bodies are. I tell them how you can't just push hundreds of thousands of years of evolution (yes! I said it!) to the side with 150 years of medical "advances." I tell them that even if their heads say they can't do this, their bodies can. Can, can, can. And I tell them to call my doula because she's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Maybe better.
God help me, but I liked labor better than the pregnancy. At least I knew it was going to be shorter, and I was actually doing something, you know? Participating, instead of just toting a fetus around until it was ready to make a break for it. I hate waiting just that much. After having the Dude I realized that I am a full-fledged labor junkie and if it weren't for the first and third trimesters, I'd have like a dozen kids. I wish I could have them for other women. It's something I'm actually good at without trying. I just shut down and let my body do its thing and hey! baby!
There's a social taboo against complaining about motherhood or marriage without prefacing the rant with a disclaimer: "It's a blessing to be pregnant, but..." or "Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom." or "I adore my partner, it's just..."
I try really hard not to do this, because it seems like I'm apologizing for my feelings, I shouldn't have to. I try to avoid that as much as possible, if only so Perp grows up knowing that her feelings count as much as anyone else's. They're valid. They mean something. She shouldn't be sorry for them, as ugly as they may be. It's a sorry state of affairs that we feel obligated to include prefaces like that, ain't it? I mean, I don't apologize for hating olives: "I love the trees, I think they're beautiful, and I'd bathe in the oil if I could but I just don't like olives that much."
Maybe this is a generational thing, because it mostly came from women my mother's age and older. Most of the stories centeree around the horrible. I just don't get it. I didn't love being pregnant, but it certainly wasn't the worst experience in my life. I had a drug-free delivery and a third-degree laceration, but that's not what I concentrate on when I tell P's birth story. Okay, I do put some emphasis on the drug part but I'm proud of that. That's okay; I don't push it on other people, I just point out that it is possible, evenwith big-ish babies (8.8# and 9.2# respectively).
I think there's a natural desire to relate stories that portray one as a survivor. So no matter how minor the incident really was, coming across as some kind of superhero means embelishing. But just a leetle bit.
I also think that there's a small part in us that wants to either scare or prepare other women for what's coming up. I'm not sure which it is. I just wish that more of it could be about the first time your baby smiles up at you when she's nursing, or the first time he laughs a real laugh as you tickle his lips with his toes, or the first time her father holds her after she's born.
Perhaps what I wanted was for people to not volunteer these stories, but to tell them IF I ASKED. One woman passed me as I waddled across the habitrail at work and said, "Oh, I just loved being pregnant." It was all I could do not to snap back, "Then you can just finish this for me!" But I smiled and kept going. One look at my face should have told her I wasn't too happy but it didn't matter, she had her comment to make. Maybe that's it, in the end: the willingness of complete strangers to make each and every pregnant woman into a piece of public property to be commented on and to, as if she either weren't there, or was, like, paid to listen.
I don't recall getting any paychecks.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Apropos of nothing, I swear to God.