When you become pregnant with your first child, there are many different emotions you may feel: excitement, fear, love and, probably, a palpable need to start researching everything and anything even remotely related to pregnancy, labor and delivery. It turns out, while asking questions and using the internet and reading all the baby books definitely helps, Pam from The Office got it right about pregnancy in a way that makes her, in my opinion, an amazing reference and source of helpful (not to mention, hilarious) information.
I mean, while pregnancy is amazing and filled with some incredible experiences (hello tiny little baby hiccups), it can also be super strange. You'll need all the help you can get when you're attempting to navigate your way through 40 or more weeks of gestation, especially when people around you start to get a little creepy (especially strangers) and you encounter a few bodily functions you didn't even know where a thing, especially now that you're an adult. I mean, you were potty trained as a kid, right? So why are you all of a sudden incapable of controlling your bladder? The entire experience can all be pretty unsettling, or at least a little confusing, and it's only exacerbated by the fact that you look like you've swallowed a basketball.
Thankfully, even when you're feeling super weird and odd and dealing with the not-so-fun side of pregnancy, you're not alone. There are plenty of other women who experience the same things and feel the same ways that you do, so find some solace in the fact that there's solidarity everywhere. In fact, you only have to look as far as The Office to find a pregnant woman who not only voiced how complicated and difficult and wonderful and painful pregnancy can be, but made it through two pregnancies like a boss. Hey Pam, thank you. You're kind of amazing, and here are just a few reasons why:
You Can Be Excited, Regardless Of The Circumstances
Everyone who knows the show, knows that Pam and Jim were engaged when they got pregnant. Now, society has come around (a tad) and has reluctantly dropped the notion that two people have to be married before they get pregnant, but it's not uncommon to be shamed or judged if you have a baby before you recite some nuptials. Pam's character reminds us that we have every right to be wholeheartedly excited about a pregnancy we want, no matter when it happens. Why? Because we will be welcoming a beautiful little bundle of love and joy that is ours to protect, teach, and love. Who wouldn't want to celebrate something so beautiful and so special?
You Don't Have To Tell People You're Pregnant Right Away (Or At All, If You Don't Want To)
There's a reason people sometimes wait to tell their friends and coworkers about their pregnancy: everyone freaks out. Often, it is a good kind of freaking out, like bubbling excitement that can't be contained and, instead, needs to be expelled from your body via loud shrieks and screams. But when you're pregnant, your hormones are already going so crazy that you just might not want to deal with everyone at once. Besides, it's a special thing for you and your partner and you may want to choose to keep it private for a little while so it's "just you and your partner's secret."
You Don't Have To Deal With People's Inappropriate Questions And/Or Reactions
When you first tell everyone, or even a few people, that you're pregnant, you will inevitably be on the receiving end of endless questions. "When are you due?" and "Do you know the sex yet?" and "Was your pregnancy planned?" are just the tip of the iceberg, you guys. Anyone remember Creed's questions about who Pam's OB-GYN was? I mean, just, like, no. No no no no no.
Morning Sickness Is Really All-Day Sickness
Everyone dreads getting morning (read: all day) sickness. I was lucky and only got queasy rather than actually sick. A family friend, however, was not so lucky and had sever morning sickness, to the point she had to take a brown bag in her car with her on her way to work in the mornings. The Office hilariously touched on the reality of morning-turned-all-day sickness, when Pam asks her coworkers to avoid certain foods or perfumes so she doesn't throw up. Dwight, of course, doesn't care that a fetus is calling the shots, and when Pam becomes sick from the smell of Dwight's boiled egg, she doesn't take the time or the energy to hide it. To prove a point (that morning sickness is the worst), Pam throws up in front of her coworkers, causing everyone around her to get sick, too. Pam FTW.
You Won't Always Feel Beautiful
Oh, the struggle that is attempting to fit into clothes you absolutely love. Oh, the struggle that is trying to remain body positive when you feel uncomfortable and, well, weird. Seriously, the struggle is real.
I'll always remember the moment I realized just how difficult it is to feel beautiful, all the time, when you're pregnant. It was during a Christmas Eve church service. I had one maternity dress (lace and wine colored, 3/4 sleeved and beautiful) that I wanted desperately to wear for the service. I was all excited for the evening to begin and went to put on my dress and, well, it looked like I was ready to go to a club (not the look you typically aim for at a religious gathering). Because of my protruding belly, the dress was far too short for my liking and was far too snug to feel comfortable in and, well, I was heartbroken.
For Pam, it was her inability to wear the wedding dress she wanted. She was beautiful and looked beautiful and her soon-to-be-husband was telling her she was beautiful, but she didn't feel beautiful. While pregnancy is a miraculous thing, it doesn't always feel miraculous, and that's OK.
It's OK To Be Scared
We can be excited and ready for our baby to come so we can finally meet them, but we can also be very scared. For me, it wasn't so much for the parenting part- although some people might be scared of that too. More for the actually act of delivering the baby. That alone is enough to intimidate even the most fearless person- man or woman. Not to make it worse, but think about it: you are pushing an entire human being out of you. What if something goes wrong? What if you can't do it? (Trust me, you can. You may just psych yourself out first, but you really can.) All we know from the show is that Pam was scared. Scared of not being able to do it. What exactly is "do it"? Well, you decide. Is it parenting? Is it delivering? Is it all of it? I think this is open for interpretation. But no matter what you're scared of not being able to do, know what? Pam did it all: pregnancy, labor, delivery (twice because she had 2 children), and raising her children with her husband by her side all while working and balancing family life and work life. If Pam can do it all, so can you.
Pregnancy And Food Go Hand-In-Hand
By the end of Pam's pregnancy, she was sharing a 2nd breakfast, lunch, 2nd lunch, and 1st dinner with the always lovable, Kevin. In normal day-to-day life, we only have one of each meal, right? In the life of a pregnant woman, we have at least 2 of each meal every day. This is not a lie. Personally, I think I ate more than my group of guy friends and my fiancé combined. It's O.K! Eat your heart out! A healthy rule of thumb? A pregnant woman needs to consume 300 extra calories a day to help her body do what it needs to do.
Breastfeeding Is Hard
Watching Pam struggle to get the hang of breastfeeding was a godsend to women everywhere (or, you know, at least to me). It was great to see the reality of breastfeeding played out on screen. Simultaneously, it was great to see just how involved other people tend to be when a mother tries to breastfeed, and how those unnecessary interventions can make breastfeeding harder, instead of easier. Help is wonderful, don't get me wrong, but sometimes all a mom needs is some time and space.
You Get To Decide Who Is In The Delivery Room
Don't let anyone (besides the hospital staff) tell you who should and shouldn't be in the delivery room with you. Only you can and should decide who is present and seeing you at your most powerful and vulnerable. Not a friend, not a family member, not your mom or your partner's mom, not even your partner. Only you. Stand up for what you want. After all, you're the one going to be the most exposed and having the most happening and doing the most work. You should make the call.
You'll Be Absolutely Exhausted When It's All Over
This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. No matter how long your labor and delivery took, or what it looked like or how your baby came into the world, you will be exhausted. This type of other-world fatigue can make you feel delirious, delusional and disoriented. No one made it more obvious than Pam, when she accidentally breastfed someone else's baby because she was too tired to notice the difference. Raise our hand if you've been that freakin' tried before. Oh, hello everyone.