There is a golden rule that must be obeyed at all times. Did I say “golden rule”? Well then I understated it. I meant a rule derived of a metal so precious, platinum would bow in its wake. A rule embellished with Graff diamonds and deep sea pearls. A rule of such enormity and such significance, it makes the US Constitution seem like a cartoon version of US Weekly. And this is the rule of which I speak;
NEVER EVER EVER MAKE ANY REFERENCE WHATSOEVER TO A WOMAN BEING PREGNANT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM (OFFERING SEAT, ASKING ABOUT CRAVINGS OR SUGGESTING ALTERNATIVE LABOR PAIN MANAGEMENT TIPS) UNLESS YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE A BABY’S HEAD EMERGING FROM HER VAGINA.
That’s the golden rule. And you’re welcome. Remember it.
When I was quite early on in all my pregnancies, it was fun to witness people bumble their way through some pathetic attempt to spark conversation with me about my pregnancy but be unsure about whether or not they were on the right track. In line with my evil sense of humor I’d say ‘Oh, I’m not pregnant” and watch them cringe with embarrassment and look awkwardly at their feet, until I finally admitted that yes, ha ha ha, I was indeed knocked up.
More interesting times at the end of each my pregnancies, when I was the size of a Honda Civic (the old, bulky ones, not the newer sleek models mind you). This is the time when NOBODY noticed my pregnancy, particularly on busy New York subway trains where the presence of a stomach approximately 50 inches in circumference stuck in your face doesn’t distract you at all from that riveting14 word article in Metro NY.
But bugger me, there is NOTHING fun or interesting about somebody offering you a fucking subway seat 4 months AFTER your baby is born. Nothing. In fact, I’d hazard that it is less painful to shove a garden rake up your ass. Sideways. I have been offered a seat on public transportation no less than 3 times since I returned to work. And I find it utterly soul destroying. I’m in my pre pregnancy trousers for crissakes! I am so depressed about the expectations.
A very large part of the problem for me is that generally we as a society have such a distorted view of motherhood, thanks in large part to the revolting celebrity culture that has overridden our media for the last 10 years. I feel so embarrassed to admit this but yes, there have been times when I have compared my self to a celebrity and its just ludicrous. The cover of one of those magazines is how Halle Berry looks the way she does 4 weeks after having a baby. Erm, clue; tummy tuck, liposuction, dietician, personal trainer, nanny, personal assistant and billions of dollars.
For us mere mortals, getting to the gym is a tiny victory in itself. After about 3 hours sleep (and I’m talking a week here, not a night) the next miracle is having the energy to step onto an elliptical, and after that stay upright long enough to get a decent work out in.
But more than that, it’s the idea that our bodies are ugly, unattractive, that we are a disappointment or a failure if we look basically like women do and should look after having a baby. I think that a lot of women feel shame because of what happens to their bodies during and after pregnancy. And its because instead of congratulating women, supporting women or celebrating women for the incredible and miraculous changes that occur as their child grows within them, our society judges them in a competition that they didn’t even enter with the likes of Halle Berry or Angelina Jolie.
Obviously this is a huge topic, and hugely personal to me, as a mother of 3. I’m very fortunate to have a husband who reminds me often of what I already know deep down. My beauty isn’t in my perfectly flat stomach or my skinny jeans. It’s in the uncontainable joy I express on my face each and every time I watch my children playing, laughing, learning and surviving another day in this crazy world. And I never feel more beautiful than when I am with my girls, being their Mom. Stomach, thighs and all.