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So, I’m pregnant.
But then you probably knew that, because I’m pretty sure the whole universe knows it, because it’s all I can talk, think, or breathe about right now. I would apologize for this, except I can’t, because I’m too busy being pregnant. Six months pregnant with stretched out belly skin that itches and a bump that gets heavier as the day progresses. Twenty-two weeks pregnant with zitty skin and constant hunger and a tiny person who likes to go bump in the night to remind me of its ever-growing presence in my uterus. I am distractedly, beautifully, hopelessly enthralled with pregnancy. My body is fucking amazing, yo. AMAZING. Look at what it’s doing. LOOK! And if you don’t want to look, too bad, because I’ll big fat show you my big fat self anyway with a thousand Instagram/Facebook pics and posts about the incredible thing that’s happening in my body right now.
I’m pregnant like millions of women are at exactly this moment, pregnant like billions of women have been in the millennia before me and like billions will be in the millennia that follow. I’m not special. But dammit, I’m pregnant, and I’m sorry, but you’re all guaranteed to get barraged with pictures of my belly, the nursery, the cute onesie I found at Target on a shopping spree that was entirely unnecessary, and ultimately, my child, for the next 18+ years, so if you want to avoid this, I suggest you unfriend, unfollow, and generally disown me forever starting now. Because I’m harassing you on purpose (I’ll get to that in a moment).
To be clear, I promised myself I would never become “one of those women.”
One of those women who posted a thousand bump pics on the interwebs, harassing their friends with their pregnant-ness, with their impending parenthood, with their pains, pangs, and morning sickness woes. One of those women who became obsessed with becoming a mother. Nope, not me. I have a career, I have shit to do, I have things going on in my life beyond my house and my family, and I like it that way.
And I do still make time for my friends and focus on work. You know, until that little creature in my belly starts bumping around and I stop for five… ten… fifteen minutes just to feel her entertain herself in my uterus. Before I know it I’m reading an article online about how my child recently discovered his sense of touch, and is probably busy sucking his thumb, feeling his umbilical cord or picking his nose. Maybe she’s wondering what that sound is as I listen to music or sing as I paint the nursery. Maybe he’s intently feeling his face, hands, belly, and trying to figure out what and where he is.
I imagine it’s all I can think about because it’s literally taking over my body. This week I realized I have to either stand sideways next to the stove or singe my bellyhairs if I want to stir a pot. Last week I discovered that I can no longer slide through small spaces without bopping something (or worse, someone) with my bulbous belly. If it’s not my belly (or the bouncing thing inside it) that’s causing a distraction, it’s my growling stomach, a leg cramp bad enough to make me want to tie on a tourniquet and cut the damn thing off entirely, or the hemorrhoids that threaten to turn the next four months into a steaming pile of extremely painful shit.
As much as some aspects of this whole pregnancy shebang suck a giant hemorrhoid, I know I’m a Lucky One. We Lucky Ones (or at least this Lucky One) try not to talk too much about loving pregnancy, because you never know when you’ll be talking to one of the Unlucky Ones who was miserable throughout pregnancy, had horrible morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum, anyone?), zero energy, and could not wait to expel their spawn from their abused-by-HCG bodies. I’ve been blessed with an easy pregnancy. A little nausea, a lot of exhaustion, a few headaches here and there, and now that I’m actually carrying around a basketball full of baby, a little more pulling, cramping, and pressure than is comfortable. But really, nothing too awful.
Which means I can focus on this amazing thing my body is doing a little more than Unlucky Ones, who are understandably preoccupied with avoiding a trip to the porcelain throne to expel the remnants of their lunches. Which means you all are going to get inundated on social media, because this whole process is fecking amazing. I’m growing a human. And all of you are blessed enough to hear about it… for the next four months.
And guess what? I’m sort of torturing you on purpose.
That’s right, by peppering you with updates about my pregnancy via the interwebs, I’m actually making a conscious political decision not to hide or silence my pregnant body. As feminist theorists have argued for decades, pregnancy has been socially dubbed as a time of feminine weakness; a time when women “can’t do” as much as they normally would; when they’re not as beautiful (and don’t feel as beautiful) as they might have before pregnancy; and when all the leaky, crampy, noisy, annoying shit that comes along with their pregnant state needs to be managed, silenced, and avoided (see: Luttrell, Pillow, St. Pierre).
While our society certainly celebrates pregnant bodies, it only celebrates them in their cleanest, most presentable state (think Vogue pictures of preggo Heidi Klum). Many women (myself included) learned about the most embodied parts of pregnancy and childbirth only upon becoming pregnant and hearing from other mothers. We all love to see the gorgeous, cleaned-up pregnant mom in maternity clothes that flatter her figure as she poses gracefully before the camera, but let’s face it: pregnancy is not graceful. And some of the things that make it beautiful are, in fact, pretty damn ugly when they’re up close and personal. (note: projects like The 4th Trimester Bodies Project seek to combat this silencing of pregnant and post-partum bodies — worth a look!).
And yet, we are also obsessed with pregnant bodies. Ask any pregnant woman what sorts of comments she’s gotten about her body and she’s sure to have a laundry list.
“You look great!”
“You look tired.”
“Wow, you’re really out there for five months!”
“It’s a boy, I can tell by how you’re carrying.”
“It’s a girl… I can tell by how you’re carrying.”
“Wow, you’re huge.”
“You need to eat more; you’re too thin.”
“How much weight have you gained?”
“How much weight are you supposed to gain?”
These are just a few comments I’ve heard in the past few weeks. As this blogger notes, such questions do not combat the silencing of the realities of pregnant bodies, but instead make a woman incredibly conscious of how her body is being perceived, analyzed, and understood by others — as a vessel for a baby boy or girl that must be protected, policed, and carefully monitored.
Which is why lots of my Facebook posts look like this:
Or this, from a recent and long-overdue vacation in France:
The message I hope to send when I post to Facebook is that while yes, pregnancy has its ugly moments, my pregnant body is strong. It can run, walk, swim, lift, and do pilates. Sure, I’m a Lucky One — but I’ve also worked at staying strong during my pregnancy: exercising daily and continuing to do the things I love — like walk all over Paris. Sure, I have limitations, and I listen to my body’s signals. But I am capable, independent, and able to move through the world in this body, and I want the world to see that strength.
So if you’re friends with me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram, know me as a human person who likes to talk a lot and tends to over-share, you’re likely to hear a lot about this awesomely disgusting thing my body is doing right now, in part because I’m completely obsessed with it and I think you should be too, and in part because I don’t think shutting up about my pregnant body does me or society any favors. You might not get the pregnancy narrative you’re used to, or even a narrative you want — but for that, I will not apologize.[/nextpage]