Monday, April 21, 2014

Prenatal Propaganda

It's been a long time since the last time that I was pregnant. I'm officially past the age cutoff to be considered advanced maternal age, but happened to pick a pretty good time to get old and pregnant since science has evolved to the point that most of the screening for genetic abnormalities can be done through blood work now, allowing the old moms like me some peace of mind without having to endure invasive testing that could put the entire pregnancy at risk.

Speaking of which, I got those blood test results back this week and they were all negative (which in this case means good) and so I can breathe a little bit easier now.

A little.

I'm still neurotic as hell, but you all knew that already.

It is a boy. :)

Since it's been so long since the last time I was pregnant and the internet has become an almost constant presence in our lives in that time period, a lot has changed, aside from science.

In the first weeks of my pregnancy, in an effort to pinpoint my due date, I visited a few websites that have calculators and such for that purpose. In the process, I must have given some of them my email address in order to access the information.

It's a two way street though, and now I am being bombarded with propaganda from all angles at all times of the day. I have several emails a day (not even including the ones that get routed to my junk folders). There are pop up ads all over my Facebook account and anytime I search anything online. Amazon wants me to enroll in their subscription services for diapers and wipes and all of the things already.

How the hell does everyone on the internet know that I am pregnant???

Anyhow, some of it is nice. I've already scored a few sweet deals with some of the ads that clearly are generated to draw my attention. I don't want to be a sucker for good marketing, butgoddammititworks.

There are other things I am being sent though, and they are the ones that are bothering me a bit more.

Like the email that I got when I was only 5 or 6 weeks along that promised ways to keep my tummy flat and how to regain my figure immediately right after birth. Or the ones that push super expensive creams and oils that are supposed to save my skin from stretch marks. Or any of the ads, for that matter, that are telling women who are barely pregnant that their bodies are about to go to hell and the only way to prevent that from happening is available on this site for the low one time only price of $49.99.

I'm being a little facetious, but not really.

It bothers me because I've never searched any of those things. This is just what they send to everyone.

My stomach hasn't been flat in decades. I've already had four kids and have the stretch marks to prove it. I can tell you that whether you are going to get stretch marks has nothing to do with what you slather on your belly or how much it costs, but whether you happen to blessed with super elastic collagen in your skin or not. Which happens to be genetic...meaning there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.

Your body is changing because you are growing a person. It's not supposed to stay the same. You aren't supposed to look the same. You are supposed to gain weight. Your hips are supposed to get wider. Your feet usually grow and often stay bigger permanently. You're either going to get stretch marks or you aren't, so save the money on the expensive crap and just buy a bottle of baby oil.

Your body is supposed to look like it just had a baby when you've just had a baby. It takes six weeks alone for your uterus to go back to its original size and all the diets and shakes and supplements and wraps and that in the universe can't force that process any faster than nature intends it to go.

We live in a twisted society that is so focused on body image that we expect women to look like they did before they were pregnant within mere hours after birth. It's just not realistic, and emails like the ones being sent out to people like me (and, I assume, every other woman who ever signs up on these sites for anything) serve to undermine what self confidence we have by taking the focus away from this miraculous life creation thing our body is doing and shining a spot light on whether we will fit into our skinny jeans immediately.

You aren't supposed to fit into your skinny jeans immediately. Honest.

You are supposed to be concerned with caring for yourself and your newborn. That's what you are supposed to be spending your time focused on. Honest.

It's not just the internets that harass the pregnant women of the world, it's everyone. Literally.

There is something about being pregnant that screws up the filters that the universe normally has and allows people to believe that whatever their opinions about you and your body and your pregnancy are 1)legitimate, 2)relevant, and 3)required to be proclaimed to the world.

It's a bit strange, and I honestly can't figure out where this societal compulsion comes from, why people think that just because a woman is pregnant that it is totally permissible to invade her privacy, ask questions they never would ordinarily ask, tell stories no one solicits and give advice no one wants.

For better or worse, I've become tremendously skilled in ignoring it, in nodding and smiling and disregarding. Then again, this is the sixth time I've been pregnant, so I've had a lot more practice than the average person.
  • We don't want to hear about the horrible birth story of your cousin's best friend's sister. 
  • We don't care about how much weight you gained or how fast you lost it.
  • We don't want you telling us that we have to have an epidural or not.
  • We don't care what you think about how many kids we already have.
  • We don't want you trying to tell us to breastfeed or recommending formula.
  • We don't care if you think we look tiny/huge/like we're carrying twins.
  • We don't want you touching us. Like ever.
We are humans, still as worthy of privacy and respect as we were when we weren't gestating another human. If we want your input, we will ask. If it is okay for you to feel the baby kicking, we'll let you know and guide your hand. If we are looking for options and alternatives, we'd like to know that we can come to you, but let us initiate the conversation. We got this.

We are judged enough as it is. By our doctors, by the nurses, by society's expectations of us, by the internet looming everywhere we are. We judge ourselves probably more than anyone else does.

Those of us with complicated pregnancies, myself included, can promise you (to the moon and back) that it is taking everything we have to stay focused on what we need to do to sustain and maintain a healthy baby and keep our own health in check. Everything is infinitely more complicated for us and we're already harder on ourselves than anyone else is. Honest.

It all compounds on one another.

In the rare spaces between all those times when I'm being hard on myself, judging myself, worrying about what I have to eat and when and what my blood sugar is and whether I had enough water and whether I have a protein rich snack and whether wherever I am has a source of simple carbs in case I crash and whether I have exercised enough and whether this is my allergies or a cold and whether it will throw off my numbers and whether I overslept and too much time has elapsed when I've been fasting and it will skew my between all those times, I am just grateful. Elated. Joyful. Still giddy over the fact that I get to be here again in the first place.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me this time.


  1. Love all your words!! I do not have the super elastic genes- I wanted to hit people who wanted to "help" me with those stretchmarks.

  2. Just before I read this, I do not kid, I read a story where someone was in the Starbucks in a Target, noticed a lovely mother wearing her new baby, made appropriate coos and comments and went to pour milk in her coffee. Where she then heard the barista ask the mother " So I have to ask, did you, like, have it naturally or get a c-section?" No. No barista, you do not HAVE to ask...

  3. Love love love. Absolutely love.


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