Ten things I wish I’d known
“You should touch my belly,” I said to a young man as he left church on Sunday. For months, he’s been hearing me say publicly, “Touch the bump, pull back a stump,” but there I was encouraging him to reach out and feel the baby bump.
“That’s okay,” he demurred.
“No, seriously. You should feel it. My abs are rock hard.” He reached out tentatively and pushed against the middle of my belly, withdrawing his hand within nanoseconds.
“I want you to know what happens when you get a girl pregnant,” I said with a smirk.
“Yeah, I wasn’t planning on it!” he said before making a quick exit. I would guess he might work a little harder to prevent it from now on.
I’ve made it fairly clear that I don’t want my belly touched throughout my pregnancy. I already feel like my body is not my own anymore; having others feel welcome to touch me where they never before felt welcome to touch me is unnerving. Yet I find myself inviting anyone under the age of 23 to touch the belly. Encouraging, even. Feel this. Know what will happen. Stay in school, monkeys.
I didn’t plan to be pregnant at 38, which, according to my doctor, codes me as an “elderly pregnant woman.” He tried to tell me that was an oxymoron, but his statement was more of a fumble than a save. At 35, I was thinking about getting pregnant, but here I am, a 38 year old who thought it wasn’t in God’s plan, six weeks away from delivery and still surprised. There are so many things no one ever told me to expect when I was expecting. Here are a few I’d like to share.
- I’d really like to just eat a normal, healthy meal like I would have pre-pregnancy: heavy on the spice and plants, lean and low sugar. The baby does not want that healthy, spicy crap. I don’t eat pickles and ice cream (yet), but I eat things I normally wouldn’t choose. It’s like Baby Jay has a menu of all my food memories that he flips through and makes choices from. I have made so many things from my youth that I haven’t thought about in years: homemade blue cheese dressing like they served at the Fulton Country Club when I was a teenager, patty melts, taco salads, cookies my Grandma made when I was eight, Orange Julius, Nerds candy. Ick. I dream about this stuff. Alex has given up the debate over what’s for dinner as he has realized over the last 7 months that there is no arguing with what we want. The good news is that I bring tastier things to church dinners and breakfasts. The bad news is—
- With all the weird food choices, body image issues get extra weird. I had heard that being pregnant would be a glorious time of enjoying my changing body. Yup, not so much. I know it sounds selfish, but I’d like my body back. Waddling doesn’t feel as cute to me as it looks to everyone who chuckles when I process in at church. I look forward to working my way back to my pre-pregnancy weight once the baby is born.
- Even though dressing cute might help with the body image issues, I’m just pretty happy to have on something that fits and covers my belly. Fashion takes a backseat to “it fits!”
- Public restrooms are not the devil. I use them almost everywhere, whereas I avoided them like the plague pre-pregnancy. I guess that’s one neurosis I can check off my list. Thanks, Baby Jay.
- The easiest way to impress teenage boys is to rattle the floorboards with pregnant belly “there’s no room at the inn!” burps. Once their mouths fall open, I ask them to touch my belly. There are lots of teaching moments in this pregnancy for the young ones.
- Pregnancy rules change rapidly, so be careful with the advice you heed. I know women who were told to avoid regular soda during pregnancy so they drank diet. Diet soda was the first thing I was told to avoid. Apply this principle to every rule you’ve ever heard about pregnancy. The rules change quickly and vary from country to country. I’ve heard advice from friends in England, Italy, and the US. Lots of it conflicts. I just ask the doctor a lot of questions.
- 3-D ultrasound images are less creepy if it’s your own child. Still kinda creepy, but hey! We know who Baby Jay looks like. He’s a tiny little Alex. For your sake, I just included the regular ultrasound image.
- I will be more sympathetic in the future for people with the following: blood sugar issues, swollen ankles and feet, acid reflux, and indigestion. People keep telling me the stomach issues I’ve experienced mean the baby has a lot of hair. Yup. Saw it on the ultrasound. We’ll be braiding it by the time he’s six months old. In the meantime, I will be nicer to people who experience health issues that make them generally uncomfortable. I will carry Tums in my purse for the benefit of others.
- I’ve had so many people tell me it’s wonderful when the baby kicks its mother, but, um… seriously? What about when he moves inside you and your whole stomach changes shape? It’s like a scene from Alien and my best parlor trick. I love to call Alex’s attention to my morphing stomach and watch him freak out. “Hey Alex, look at this…” Works every time.
- Once you hit your second trimester, the women who have been pregnant before start telling you the real story on pregnancy. I’ve heard: “It stinks.” “Worst experience of my life.” “I hated being pregnant.” Oh, so now you tell me.
But still, by the beginning of February, it will all be worth it (I’m pretty sure). Even if I’d known these ten things, I still would have gone through this nine months. His room is almost ready. Tiny, freshly washed clothes are starting to accumulate in the drawers of his dresser. Our life as we know it is about to change forever, and I’m excited about that. In just a few weeks, I’ll have a newborn baby to pass around the pews. I’m sure the older folks at church will want to hold him, but I’m going to make sure the teenagers get the first shot… just in case they didn’t get the message when they touched my belly.