Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Things People Say

The other night I had a dream that I had a baby boy. And a two-year old girl.

Analyze that one.

Everyone keeps asking me what I am having. I can confirm that it is human. Beyond that, I do not yet know. I have a doctor’s appointment in one more week. There might be an ultrasound involved. There might not. They just don’t tell you. Not only do they make you wait 4 weeks between appointments (isn’t there something you need to tell me? Don’t you want to keep an eye on me? Aren’t there things I shouldn’t be doing right now that you need to remind me about?), but they don’t tell you what is coming up at the next one.

It was Saturday evening that I was at Aubrey’s first birthday. As far as first year birthday’s go, it was off the hook. Halfway through it, she stripped half her clothes and donned a poofy pink party hat. Yes, there was the token cake all over the face photo. There was also a lot of asking about what am I having. Really, I don’t know. But that didn’t mean people didn’t want to take a guess.

My gut instinct says it’s a boy. There are plenty of old wives tales for me to refer to but I am going with the gut which suspects boy. Oddly enough, Chris’ aunt whom I never see also thinks it is going to be a boy. Going through the buffet line, I learned why:

She is having a boy because she is getting prettier.

Wow. To think that if it had gone the other way, it would have gone really, really bad.

This is not really about gender, though. It’s about the things that people say to you when you’re pregnant (first example, above). There must be a scarlet P on my head because it seems like everyone has something to say about me being pregnant and uses it as permission to say and do things you don’t normally do. Do you know how many people touched my stomach at Aubrey’s party? But it’s my stomach. It’s not technically a private part but imagine if you went up to one of your relatives and just touched their stomach.

Kind of, sort of…awkward?

Tummy touched, told I was – THANKFULLY – getting prettier – and then came the comments surrounding food. Now, I don’t know if it is because I am getting bigger that I am sensitive about food comments because they are usually so closely tied to body image OR if I have become a complete chow box deserving of the comments. Though I will say I avoided sweets all week so I could have a damn piece of ice cream birthday cake. And I did. It was a big piece. It was filled with cake batter ice cream and I loved every bite of it. I was carrying the plate of it to the family room when someone said to me:

Every time I see you, you are eating something sweet.

Ok, that – for the record – was a lie because it was the FIRST sweet thing I had eaten all night. But it got under my hopefully not to stretch marky skin. And honestly I wanted to throw the cake away because I thought – maybe they are right. Maybe I should put the cake down because the only place that cake is going is straight to my rear end which is getting fluffier WITHOUT my help.

It gets better. I was at masters on Sunday. While the rest of the team dove off the blocks, I was put into the lane of those pushing off the wall. Nothing more needs to be said about that. While waiting for my heat to go off, here’s what someone said to me:

This is kind of a risky question, but, are you by any chance pregnant? Because you are usually so small.

What if I had said no. What if it was a really bad winter and I just ate myself into happiness. Of course, I said yes and if the masters team mascot was a whale I would step up and represent because that is how I am starting to feel in a swimsuit (and as a side note, I need to get a new swimsuit before I start showing ass crack because the damn thing is getting TOO SMALL!). But it got me to thinking – I am only 4 months into this. If people are saying things like that now, where will they go? What is next?

If you keep running, that baby will fall right out of you.

No, they haven’t said that yet, but I was already warned that it is coming.

Someone else on the team made a public display of my chest. YES it is getting bigger. But objects are not bigger than they appear. It’s all an illusion! That is what happens when you go from nothing to something! Anyhow, the person told my fellow swimmers that to know that I am truly pregnant they need not look at my stomach (and I missing something here, it is sticking out right now like I just ate 10 bowls of pasta) but they DO need to look at my chest. LOOK AT THE CHEST they shouted! For god’s sake, please don’t! This is swim practice, not the Playboy Mansion!

I take all of this – touching and commentary, with mixed feelings. It depends on my mood and how hormonal I am. Some days the slightest thing sets me off. Other days I am crying at commercials. Maybe I am a little sensitive right now. All right, I know I am. I got teary-eyed while watching the end of Miss America. AND WHY WAS I WATCHING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE! But it just seems like people let their guards down – way down – with pregnant women. Things you wouldn’t say, shouldn’t say seem to easily come rolling out of their mouth.

Case in point:

How do you think you will manage your business and motherhood.

Depending on the level of hormones pumping through your body, a question like this might explode you into gender-inequity laced fury or straight into tears of perhaps I am doomed for failure. But you realize that a question like this has nothing to do with you but everything to do with the person who asked the question. It only reflects their insecurity, their discomfort with multitasking, with managing more than one role, with keeping balanced in a chaos. And so you realize when pregnant that a lot of what people say to you or ask you is only what they fear themselves – about themselves of for themselves.

Of all the things on sale at BuyBuyBaby, the one thing I didn’t see were…pregnancy ear muffs.

I would definitely like a pair.

Forget all of those other comments and questions, here is my favorite:

How much weight have you gained?

Is there any right answer to this one? Because no matter what you say, it is too much. You can see their heads doing the math after you tell them – and the result is oh, you are screwed. You might as well call yourself Captain Liz because your body is going to be a barge any day now. And then we’re going to need one of those cranes to get you out of bed.

Speaking of things people say and ask, I ask myself a lot of questions. Like how many times can I pee during a 60 minute workout (answer: every 15 minutes – note that tempting fate by seeing if you can make it 20 is a good way to pee yourself while running like mad to the bathroom). How much longer will I fit into my regular jeans (I know that any day now I will be in a wardrobe that consists entirely of elastic pants). How much will my baby weigh (I draw the line at giving birth to anything that weighs more than my dog). How many times can you wake up during the night and still call it sleep. When will I feel the baby move?

I’m pretty sure I’ve felt fluttering or maybe that was just gas. It’s hard to say.

I walked into masters the other day and my usual swimming friend A.N. was there. She was asking me how far along I was and then said: Elizabeth, you look great. It's funny, becuase of all the things people say to you when pregnant, few make you feel good or confident about yourself. At best, they make you feel awkward and ridiculous. But like any other time in life, a simple compliment goes a long way.

As for everything else, it is just part of the pregnancy experience. The comments, the looks, the touching. Oh yes, I am now learning first hand. There is no right answer to any of the questions you are asked. Even if there was, it would change day to day. That is the nature of pregnancy. It is unpredictable just like the things people say.


Alicia Parr said...

Elizabeth, you look great. Not that I've seen a picture or anything, but I'm sure you do b/c how could a strong, pregnant athlete look anything but awesome?

FWIW, when I started telling people I was pregnant at the office, the men especially got this relieved, "a-ha" look on their face that said "no wonder she's been getting so uncharacteristically heavy!" And, yes, the touching and overly personal questions from complete strangers comes with the territory. It just accelerates from here.

I remember tearing up during American Idol. Seriously.

I think it was around 20 weeks when I started being SURE I was feeling the baby move. I know it sounds so far away, but it's just around the corner. Feeling the baby move is, by far, one of the coolest things about pregnancy so long as your bladder or ribcage isn't being targeted.

Angela and David Kidd said...

Oh, it is going to get MUCH MUCH MUCH worse. Just wait until you are still weeks from your due date and want nothing more than to get the baby out of you and constantly hear "You still haven't had that baby? How much longer? You look like you might explode"

And hopefully I didn't say anything inappropriate at masters - sometimes my brain doesn't always process what comes out of my mouth.

Molly said...

And this is why I am so carefully saying so very little about anything pregnancy related. It has too much potential to come out sounding wrong!

ADC said...

After the mothers' comments above, I am not sure what to say other than people can really be strange at times. Some of those comments are sooo rude. Hillarious, but rude :)

blondeez said...

Eat what you want! People will comment either way. When I eat a nice, balanced meal people say oh, aren't you being so good, like I'm acting holier-than-thou because I have vegetables on my plate. When I have a small portion (because my stomach is crammed up into my ribcage) they worry that I'm not eating enough. When I eat something sweet or processed they ask me about gestational diabetes and poisoning my baby with chemicals. You cannot win because everyone thinks a pregnant woman's body is public property, and they all have different opinions on teh right way to feed it. So you might as well eat what makes you feel good, whether it's a small organic salad or a huge slice of ice cream cake. Or both. I'd do both.

And your body will grow how it wants. You were very lean at the beginning of this process so it's no wonder if your body wanted to store up a little early on (and I won't ask how much!). Those of us who were more "famine resistant" in the first place don't tend to gain as much at the beginning, but everyone gains plenty once they hit 6 months.

Melissa said...

I like the "this might be a risky question" disclaimer that person gave you first, as if it makes it OK to ask someone if they are pregnant. Crazy things people say.

I hope you get an ultrasound at the next apt and you find out if your gut feeling is right, or if you'll be giving birth to a two year old girl.

E.L.F. said...

I have gained 8 lbs. That is what makes the comment about eating so funny. It is not like I am borderline obese!

I was at masters today and was fretting over the interval for a set of 500s. My usual lanemate encouraged me to give it a try. Another guy said to me "you know, you are only going to get slower". Men really should wear a muzzle when around a pregnant woman.

t-odd said...

People (especially guys) are dumb. I love the conversations people have about other people "trying to get pregnant." You get that you are talking about these people having sex, right? And that is none of your or my business.

My favorite story when my wife was pregnant with our first - she had felt kicks and punches, but one night she was feeling kicking over and over and over, very regular. She was amazed that the baby was SO rhythmical. I pointed out that the baby had the hiccups.

Courtney Staton said...

As of Monday, I put on exactly 7 lbs. Yet, last night a front desk attendant at the gym said to me "Damn, honey, what are you eating? You know you don't have to eat for two really, right?"

I went to my office and cried, then devised a plan to fire her.

Jennifer Harrison said...

AH! Pregnancy for me was freeing. I was FREE! I didn't care what others thought, they said stupid things and I said, "you try to carry 2 babies you idiot." I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and it was a lovely thing. And, I sat on the couch a ton and loved it. I read trashy magazines. I left my corporate job. I cried at the drop of a pin. Jerome put in hard wood floors as I sat on my ass. He put in Granite coutertops as I sat on my ass. We were both unemployed for a bit (I was not coaching FT then, just PT)...and it was the best time for me...I was able to quiet things in my life and mind and determine what I wanted to do FT as well as really get caught up with my friends and books and all that good stuff. (TOO bad FB was not around then!).

And, I ate M&Ms everyday. It was pure bliss. PURE bliss.

E.L.F. said...

I think women pregnant with twins are untouchable. A pregnant woman is one thing, a woman twice pregnant at the same time? One word comes to mind: PITY! I am always surprised about what people are willing to say but they will be equally as surprised when I remind them that their race pace is my pregnancy pace. I win.

Michelle said...

Oh, I hate to say it, but I was laughing so hard reading this, as it was bringing back memories (my kids are now 10 & 7, so it's been a while...)!!!!!! The "prettier" comment was just too priceless. I heard from my mother (a relative whispered this to hear as we were all out and about together when I was about ... 6 months pregnant with my first) that I was going to have a boy because all the weight was going to my ass. At least they didn't say it to my face at the time......

I was lucky and can't remember any stomach touching - that is just freakin' weird. I predict that your biggest pet peeve will be the number of people telling you that you simply have to stop exercising because of a variety of reasons that will be exquisitely hilarious to hear about when you share them with all of us. :)

I'm sure you look gorgeous. Just try to roll with the absurdity and enjoy the rest of this time - it's definitely a wild ride!!!!

Mama Simmons said...

Oh just wait until you are like 8-9 months and EVERY woman you see starts telling you her labor stories... Unprompted. Not sure why that is but women always feel the need to tell pregnant women about their labor.

I was getting dressed after swimming in the locker room when I was maybe 6 months pregnant and a complete stranger came up and put her hand on my belly. Um, I didn't know her and I didn't have any clothes on. Keep your freakin hands to yourself, woman!!!

Sarah Giacomarra Schrader said...

Just wait until some stranger at 7-11 touches your belly. Very weird.

Jennifer Cunnane said...

Happy to hear your pregnancy is coming along well - despite the neurotic comments from others. As everyone commented it does get old.. but somehow funny in hindsight? even though I spent most of my entire triplet pregnancy in bed or throwing up I'll admit I still even had our chinese delivery guy place his hands "unannounced" and "uninvited" on my belly after dropping off dinner one night! I got so sick of those sneak attacks of people desperate to touch your belly!

Katie said...

"You are only going to get slower" - yes, but soon you will have that baby and you will kick those guys' butts because if you keep swimming while pregnant it will be like training with a REALLY BIG pair of shorts for drag, and then suddenly have no belly (and no baby to sustain with your circulation etc)

People touching your belly - when they do it, just touch their belly right back and see how they like it. Same with asking about how much weight you've gained (I never got the nerve to actually do that, but often thought of it...)

Ange said...

oh this is so true!!! people feel free to say Anything! I still remember feeling huge and not so great...right at the end. And a girl checking me out at hte store said, " Are you SURE it's not twins??" Yup..just one. Thanks. :)
I say go with Jen's attitude....JUst LOVE IT ALL and only worry about you and baby. IT's fabulous.