No, I am not pregnant. That’s just the post title. Please continue reading.
When I was on my blogging break, people were dying due to all the suspense I built around its reason (ok, they were mildly curious). I don’t know the reasoning behind this, but one of my blogger friends, Shailaja, guessed I “had some good news.” Which is a euphemism for having a bun in the oven. Which is a – oh, you get it! Her guess led me to widen my eyes in an expression of unveiled (and rather dramatic) shock and I vehemently shook my head and my messy tresses.
But her statement made me fondly think about the glorious days of my pregnancy. Yes, I mean the days before I realized I was pregnant and was still skinny. Because once you announce your pregnancy, you are inundated with unwanted (supposedly well-meaning, but you begin to have your doubts) advice – right from your grandmother’s sister’s neighbour’s third cousin to your neighbour’s thirteen year old daughter who regales you with tales of her aunt’s recent pregnancy. Everybody, it seemed, had something to say. I know when two people get married, everyone wants to know when they’re planning to start a family. Maybe they do it so that they can let their dam of advice break loose? Because they make it seem like they were just waiting to pounce on you with:
Don’t sit like that!
Don’t eat that!
What are you doing, are you stupid?! You can’t handle a child if you’re this stupid!!!
Yes, thank you, that last was my greatest fear anyway. The others made me feel like a baby myself – because let’s face it, half of what we tell our little ones in their first few months is basically the opposite of the Nike slogan – Just Don’t Do It.
I did what I thought was the intelligent thing to do. No, I don’t mean listen to my Ob/Gyn. What do you think I am, a peasant?! I was an educated woman and I did what educated women did (on TV shows). I bought a bunch of pregnancy books.
Terrible idea, I tell you.
Here’s the thing – pregnancy, like your fingerprint, is unique. No two pregnancies are alike, and pregnancy books generalize and exaggerate things. Moreover, pregnancy books normalize the crazy. Truth is, pregnancy isn’t as terrible as these books make them out to be. Sure, you’re uncomfortable, nothing fits, you’re nauseated – all the bloody time – and at the end of nine months, you scream your throat hoarse like you’re at a rock concert – except that the rock concert is terribly painful.
I may have underplayed that last bit, but the rest of it gets exaggerated wildly by pregnancy books. If anything, they made me feel worse because I was led to believe the crazy, psychotic behaviour was normal (yes, they encourage you to act psychotic). I was worried that I did not have odd food cravings at odd hours – so I convinced myself to have some. But for food addicts like me, it is nothing unusual, because even now I get random food cravings – the past month all I’ve wanted is Mexican food, even though I am utterly un-pregnant right now. I know some women do have them, but like I said, all pregnancies are different, and I am sure even the most extreme cases aren’t as bad as the books described.
Next, the weeping. Every chapter in every book I read mentioned that pregnant women weep at the drop of a hat. Sometimes at the mere mention of the hat. Before I laid my hands on the books, I was a perfectly happy woman. A little pissed that I couldn’t have some of the food I liked (Chinese, pineapples, beer) but otherwise happy. I was definitely not weepy. In fact, you could say I was less weepy than usual! But once I read about the weepiness in the books, BAM! Again, I convinced myself that being weepy was the right way to go, and there I was weeping buckets because (and this is something that really happened) somebody from work promised to get me some birthday candles one day and forgot to do so. And a million other things like that. I wept every day, and most of it was for nonsensical reasons. The only day I wept justifiably was when India won the World Cup (and those were tears of joy).
I do have to say all that weeping probably might not have happened IF the books hadn’t convinced me that it should. Kinda like placebo, don’t you think?
Then there was a Chicken Soup for New Moms. I like the Chicken Soup series in general. The cover on this one had this real cute baby and I have to say I bought it for the positive vibes I hoped to get through it.
I could not have been more wrong.
The book painted babies like villains out to suck your soul! Every story was about pissed off mothers wishing they had never had the child. My son turned four last month, and I have to tell you, parenting isn’t all rosy (for example right now, the only thing rosy are the scars left from the scratches he gives me on a regular basis), but it isn’t that horrible either! It’s a baby. Why are you behaving like it’s a cross between Cujo and Voldemort?
I read the Chicken Soup book in the final month of my pregnancy. By then the wait and the weight were beginning to irritate me. A lot. But that’s just mild compared to the cold dread the book filled me with. I swallowed hard as I read the stories, waiting with a parched throat for the murderer of my existence to pop out of me.
When he finally arrived, he looked about as threatening as a cloud. And back then, he didn’t scratch or pull my hair or laugh nastily either. All he did was sleep most of the time, and smile in his sleep, which was mindblowingly cute. Was I exhausted? Hell yes, a human just came out of me, and I am not sleeping as much as I’d like – obviously I am exhausted! The exhaustion can make you easily irritable, but believe me, it will not turn you rabid (which is what the books will tell you will happen). Yes, postnatal depression is a very real thing, but don’t read about it because you think you may have it. Reading about a condition convinces you that you have said condition – don’t fall prey to this stupidity. Your doc is there to help you when you need it. Along with the baby’s sleepy smile.
So while everyone is spouting advice, I’ll jump in too – do not read pregnancy books. Pregnancy is not an illness – calm the hell down!
And whatever you do, do not – I repeat – do NOT watch a birthing video.