Pregnant Ladies Are Crazy, and Other Myths From the Patriarchy

Before I got pregnant, I thought I knew a lot about pregnancy. In retrospect, I realize that I knew a lot about pregnancy as it’s generally portrayed on TV and in movies.

It turns out, the entertainment industry is mostly lying to us. (I know. I was surprised, too.) Being pregnant is almost nothing like it seems on TV.

I guess this means I probably won’t give birth in an elevator, or in a car speeding down a highway — although I do know one woman who gave birth in a New York taxicab, which means that her kid will win every “who is a Real New Yorker” contest from now until the earth is swallowed by the sun.

On the downside, I can already tell that I won’t have one of those cute, photogenic baby bumps that you see on your favorite sitcom. I’ll be 19 weeks pregnant this Wednesday, and I’m already roughly the size of a barge, despite only gaining the recommended weight.

As Adam said recently, pointing to my belly, “That thing is serious, huh?” It truly is. I’m already having trouble figuring out how to deal with tables and countertops, and yesterday I hit myself in my own stomach with a doorknob trying to get into my house. Thank God for amniotic fluid, or we’d all be born with creases down our middles from when our moms tried to make a sandwich and the kitchen counter got in the way.

But the biggest surprise so far about being pregnant might be how relatively normal I feel. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I spent most of the first trimester feeling like I was on a rough ferry crossing, and when I need to eat or sleep, it’s an eating- or sleeping-emergency. But I still feel exactly like myself, which was something I was sort of led to believe wouldn’t be the case.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I thought I’d be crazy, perhaps in the sense of being legitimately mentally ill, but definitively in the sense of being a hysterical female. I was led to believe (again, by popular representations of pregnant ladies, not necessarily by actual pregnant people) that I would weep all the time, and get really mad at Adam for no reason, and just generally act like a big, hormonal mess.

That hasn’t really happened. Sure, about eight weeks in, we tried to watch a documentary on penguins and had to turn it off when a penguin baby froze to death and I couldn’t stop weeping, but that’s not necessarily new. I’ve never been great with the part of nature documentaries where we’re reminded that nature is cruel.

And I definitely have a lot less patience for bullshit now, which has had the unfortunate effect of making me snottier than usual with courtesy callers or unhelpful clerks — not a great look for anyone. (Cashier at the grocery store: “You can recycle this bottle at Customer Service.” Me: “No, you can recycle it right here for me, like they usually do.” Cashier: “Oh. OK.”)

But in general, I’m pretty much myself, with fewer fucks to give. And I’m not sure if the fewer fucks are because of hormones, or because I’m so happy to finally be pregnant that the fog of low-grade depression from the past few years has finally burned off. It’s hard to be yourself when you’re so sad all the time, and now, miraculously, I’m not.

The other day, I asked Adam for his thoughts on the matter.

“This isn’t a trap,” I said, carefully leaning my side and not my belly against the kitchen counter as he put away the clean pans.

“Uh oh.”

“No, no, really. It’s just that I was thinking the other day about how everyone makes it sound like pregnant women are crazy, and I just don’t feel that way.”

“You’re an A+ pregnant lady,” he said, closing the cabinet doors and looking relieved to have something nice to say. “You haven’t even really complained that much about anything, even when you were nauseated. I think you’re the happiest I’ve ever seen you.”

“So, I’m not secretly hysterical and deluding myself?”

He paused.

“Uh oh.”

“No, it’s not that. I’m just trying to figure out how much trouble I’ll get in if I say that life is easier when you don’t get your period.”

I laughed so hard I accidentally leaned the wrong way and bumped my stomach on the counter. “Ow.”

“Are you OK?”

“Fine, just unwieldy. Also, happy to know that you feel that way, since with the timing and all, I’ll probably go through menopause about a half hour after the baby is born.”

So, there you go. Something to look forward to, and a reminder never to believe anything that you see on TV. Of course, these days, it’s also a good idea to be skeptical of anything you read on the internet, so if you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant in the near future, keep in mind that no one knows anything about what your pregnancy will be like but future-you.

And no matter what, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re crazy.

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Unless You’re a Chef or a Housewife, It’s Not Your Job to Make Dinner

Recently, I’ve noticed two things:

  • How frequently people remind me that things are much better than they used to be for women, which I assume means that my pissiness has reached reminder-inspiring levels.
  • The sheer volume of content on the interwebs about what to make for dinner, almost all directed at women, and not just women who work as full-time domestic engineers.

The latter makes me feel better about the former, because it shows that I’m not going crazy. Things are much better for women than they used to be. For instance, I’m not property, no matter what Donald Trump’s lawyer thinks. But on the other hand, all homemaking materials are geared toward ladies, and I think that stinks.

When I talk about this with my female friends who are partnered with males, I often get a lot of eye-rolling. The general feeling seems to be that it’s nice to be a feminist, but we really shouldn’t expect much of anything from the menfolk, poor dears. This annoys me not only because I don’t want to do everything, but also because I like a lot of the menfolk, and my own personal ‘folk is pretty darn competent at everything he turns his hand to.

Still, thanks to social conditioning or advertising or whatever, men frequently get an out when it comes to doing boring things like making dinner or picking up the place.

“They just don’t notice the mess,” several women told me. Or: “He’ll cook, but only if I hassle him repeatedly, and then he only makes two things, and dinner doesn’t hit the table until midnight.”

If this sounds like your situation, I submit to you that your experiences are both fully valid and total bullshit, and you should be upset about them. Dinner, if you haven’t noticed, takes time. It has to be made every single night, rain or shine, and it disappears in about a quarter the time it takes to make it, leaving only a mess, which also has to be cleaned up by someone.

In the time it takes to make dinner, you could write two bad blog posts and half a good one. You could practice a musical instrument, perhaps the one rusting in its case in the corner under a layer of dust. You could call a friend and connect with a human who doesn’t live in your household. You could read a newspaper and keep the industry alive.

I’m not suggesting that women should get off scotfree on the dinner rotation, or that there aren’t some women who love cooking and genuinely enjoy doing it, or that men are oppressing us with aprons and appetizers. I’m just suggesting that, if you’re a female and work outside the home and you usually cook, maybe you’re not doing it out of culinary passion. And maybe it shouldn’t be your job … at least, not by default.

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Image Credit: James Vaughan/Flickr

 

Then You Must Fight the Bear

Ladies of the earth, in order to move forward, I fully believe we must take inspiration from menfolks, and demand that our needs be met. For starters, we deserve to have our physical pain taken seriously, and not ignored like the natural consequence of our wombs roaming free all over our bodies.

For example, every medical test for women is horrible: squish this between two plates, scrape that with a stick, etc., and if you ask if it will hurt, you’ll hear, “It’ll be uncomfortable.” (Which means yes, and shut up.)

Do you think for one second that men would put with this shit? They would not. If you told a man, “We’re going to screen you for testicular cancer right now. The process for this is to put your nuts on this plate and wait for them to be squashed by this other plate. No crying,” what do you think he would say?

I think his response would be a resounding, “Fuuuuuck yooooou. I’m gonna get out of this dump, and do anything else but that. In fact, I’m going to race out of here, still in my plastic-paper gown, and head toward the nearest woods. There, I will fight a bear, and if I live, I’ll take that as a sign that I don’t have ball cancer … AND IF I DIE, I SHALL GO TO VALHALLA WHERE THE BRAVE LIVE FOREVER.”

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(See that, dudes? I like you a bunch. Don’t believe what those MRAs tell you; we hostile feminists don’t want to destroy you, we just want some of that cultural acceptance mojo. But I digress.)

My point is, women’s pain needs to matter. It’s not a question of male doctors vs. female patients, because all genders have to deal with unconscious bias, since it’s apparently part of the human condition. But for God’s sake, if you’re a healthcare provider, please ask yourself one question before telling a woman that a procedure will be “uncomfortable”: would you say the same thing to a man? And even if you would, might you not offer him some pain relief to go along with it?

For the rest of us non-doctors and non-nurses, the way forward is equally challenging and necessary. Women, we’re going to have to demand to be treated and taken seriously. And men, when your favorite female people tell you that they’re in pain, you’ll have to believe them.

Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr