I think it’s safe to say that the icky, less-than-glamorous parts of pregnancy have been pretty well documented by now. It’s no longer taboo to admit, “Ya know, this whole ‘creating life’ thing ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
But that’s not why I hate being pregnant. I hate pregnancy because it promulgates a culture of “can’t.”
You can’t do this. You can’t eat those. You can’t lift that.
You cease to be yourself and morph into a walking (waddling) hazard sign.
Yes, I know. It’s allegedly for your health and the health of the baby (I say “allegedly” because there’s still plenty we don’t know about what’s medically merited and what’s excessively cautious—understandably, no sane preggo wants to be a guinea pig for science).
And it’s only for nine months, right? When pregnant women talk nostalgically about wine, there’s always that one lady who chimes in: “Well, it’s not like it’s forever! You’re so selfish you can’t give up alcohol for nine months?”
It’s actually more like ten months.
(But who’s counting?)
And it’s not about the wine.
(Well, it’s not all about the wine.)
It’s about being told you can’t.
It’s about being given the stink eye if you so much as take a sip from your husband’s glass when you’re out for dinner.
It’s about the looks of utter terror from fellow passengers when you board an airplane, even if your pregnancy has been completely uneventful and you’re months away from labor.
It’s about the judgment radiating from the barista when you order a drink with a single milligram of caffeine.
It’s about the people who tell you that you shouldn’t lift that weight, even if you’ve been lifting that weight and heavier for years.
The unsolicited judgment, admonition, unsubstantiated advice… it’s suffocating.
When I was six months pregnant with my first, I took a trip to Chile with my family where we planned to do a hike in the Andes. Granted, it was a rigorous hike, but the second I admitted to being pregnant, the guide company refused to let me do it. Even with a waiver. Even though I’m a personal trainer. Even though I was more active and in better shape than 99% of non-pregnant people. Completely deflated and somehow, inexplicably, humiliated, I burst into tears.
It was one hike. Was the company obligated to accommodate me? Did I really need to do it? Did I have anything to prove? Of course not!
But it made me feel so mad that someone who didn’t even know me was able to make a unilateral decision on my behalf, and I was powerless to do anything about it. I had no say or voice.
Now, you might think I’m being overly sensitive (I mean, I am pregnant). Maybe I’m taking it all too personally and I should just shrug it off and move on with my life. Maybe I should do what works for me and my family and not care so much about what other people think.
But isn’t that what we’ve always been told to do as women? Just grin and bear it?
Maybe that’s why just hearing “You can’t!” makes my toes curl. It’s all too familiar and condescending a refrain.
Now, I’m not advocating that pregnant women head over to the nearest watering hole and go on benders. Or trek mountains in foreign countries. And I’m certainly not suggesting they do anything outside of their own comfort zones.
But, assuming they’ve consulted with their doctors, shouldn’t those choices be up to them?
I can’t even.