For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting an increasing number of the same type of comment/question, to the point that it’s now happening on a daily basis: “Are you absolutely miserable?”
“I bet you want that kid out of there!”
“Are you hanging in there?”
Guys. I’m fine. Yes, I’m 38 weeks pregnant. I’m carrying around with me significant evidence of that fact between my hips and my ribcage. But I don’t know how to credibly explain to anyone that other than the fact that cartwheels aren’t on my agenda, I feel remarkably normal. A little tired some days, but I don’t feel like I’m going to explode; my back is fine; there’s no swelling anywhere (I’ve been walking around without my rings on for weeks because “you won’t want them on when you suddenly can’t get them off!” Just tried them last night. Still fit.); and “getting around” isn’t much different, unless you count that getting off the couch, which has never been particularly easy with the 75-pound dog who is always sleeping on some part of my body. Sometimes I do have trouble drifting back to sleep after I wake up to pee around 4 a.m. Sometimes this is annoying. Other times, I squish my hand between my stomach and the mattress to feel her little bones swirling and shifting and rubbing up against my palm, and it feels like the loveliest part of the day.
I know this is not the case for everyone. People wouldn’t assume the last few weeks of pregnancy are misery if they weren’t told so by people who have been there. I know I am lucky that I work from home and my husband basically does everything that requires effort in our house these days and yoga has been really beneficial and I nap pretty much whenever I feel like it and I’ve been prioritizing finishing work before Jeopardy starts, and so while I’m happy and cozy and unstressed, there are reasons for these things. Yay for my life.
So why do I care about the comments? To me, it feels like I’m entering the gateway of motherhood assumptions. Today, it is that my pregnancy must be miserable. Soon, it will be that my labor will be excruciating, her arrival will be miraculous, breastfeeding will be a challenge, sleeping will cease to happen, we will be zombies, cloth diapers will prove folly, childless friends will disappear, I’ll be a new person, working from home will no longer be awesome, my own life goals will matter anymore, etc., etc., etc.
Maybe some of those things will happen. Maybe some won’t. I honestly haven’t been reading a lot of parenting or baby books (I’m going to be a terrible parent, obviously), but I have been reading about a lot of women’s experiences on blogs and forums and through simply asking. And what I’ve found is that every experience is different. Everyone has different challenges. Every baby sleeps, eats and soothes in her own way, and every parent experiences them in their own way.
So while I may be going overboard with my GUYS, I’M FINE reaction to the miserable pregnancy assumptions, it’s because I’m at the beginning of a story that is uniquely mine, and my baby’s, and my partner’s. It shouldn’t start with the clichés of others’ experiences, nor should it be expected to follow the arc of assumptions we label American Parenthood. It’s our story, for us discover, and for us to tell.