Now that my baby isn't really a baby anymore, and more of my friends are starting families, part of me strangely misses pregnancy. While there's a lot of stuff about being pregnant that was physically exhausting and otherwise challenging, there was a lot that I liked about it, too. I loved the shape of my pregnant body and I loved how friendly and helpful many people were when I was expecting. Then again, I definitely remember all the ways going out in public sucks when you're pregnant and, well, I get much less nostalgic.
By the time I really started getting huge, the weather was getting colder and I finally found the perfect pregnancy pillow. Basically, my bed felt like a warm, fluffy cloud where I could actually get some sleep once my baby tired himself out from his nightly dance parties. I also started working from home, so every day I had to work really hard to give myself reasons to get out of bed (or rather, to stay out of bed, since I had to get up every hour to pee). When you've got a smartphone, a laptop, snacks, the best cat ever, and a bathroom all in close proximity, reasons to leave your room start to dwindle pretty quickly. On the one hand, there was the possibility of free cupcakes and gelato, since I was near a few shops that occasionally liked to spoil pregnant women. On the other hand, there were boundary-crossing of weirdos out there, interrupting my day with all sorts of nonsense society pretty much only inflicts on pregnant women.
Leaving your comfy bed and braving the cold is worth it for cupcakes. However, sometimes we actually have to go out regardless, so if society could offer pregnant women more of the door-holding and comped ice cream, and less of the following annoyances, that would be awesome.
By Touching Their Bellies Without Consent
I cannot understand why touching pregnant women's bellies is a thing. Sure, pregnant women are beautiful and growing a new person is a remarkable thing and I can see how awe-inspiring seeing a woman literally carrying around another human being in her body can be. But it is just basic common sense and decency to not touch people without permission, especially if you don't know those people. This really shouldn't be hard to understand.
By Subjecting Them To Weird Street Harassment
I got the oddest comments from men when I walked down the street while pregnant. I was already, unfortunately, used to street harassment, but it got extra weird when I was pregnant. Sexualized comments, all mixed up with offers to help carry heavy things, all mixed up with odd predictions about my baby and my birth experience. Who knew dudes on the street were so well-versed in Old Wives’ Tales about pregnancy?
By Giving Loads Of Unsolicited (And Occasionally Ridiculous) Advice
“Get the epidural.” “Don't get the epidural.” “Don't vaccinate your kid.” “Get rid of your cat.” “Sleep train them by three months.” Then, of course, there's my personal favorite: “Better get all the sleep you can now, since you won't get any when the baby comes!” Ugh.
Is there some sort of sleep piggy bank I'm not aware of, that I could have been using to save up sleep for the future? ‘Cause if that's real, that would actually be a helpful thing for people to tell pregnant women about.
By Telling Them Pregnancy And Birth Horror Stories
I appreciate women trying to warn other women of the wide range of possibilities of what can happen during pregnancy and birth. Indeed, wanting to cut through the bullsh*t and mythologizing around motherhood is a big reason I write about parenting.
However, there's a difference between putting stuff out there for people to find when they actively seek it, and dropping that same stuff into someone’s life at a really vulnerable time and telling them scary things they never asked to hear. Come on, people. Just stop.
By Policing/Judging Their Behavior
I got nasty stares and comments for everything from eating sushi while expecting to even drinking ginger ale out of a pony-necked bottle at a party while pregnant. A man nearly knocked it out of my hand, exclaiming, “No beer for you!”
Too many people treat pregnant women’s bodies like public property, instead of respecting our boundaries, respecting that we are grown people capable of making our own decisions, and stopping to consider that they might not actually have a clue what we're doing, or what they're talking about.
By Asking Intrusive Questions
Actual conversation I had with a stranger during my third trimester:
Random Stranger: “Oh, wow! How dilated are you??”
Me: “If you were my OB or midwife— also known as a person who actually had any reason to ever know that — you'd already know. But how's your cervix feeling today, since we're on the subject?”
By Making Bad Jokes
After finding out I was due in January, a man once “joked” that I should “lift some heavy furniture in December. If the baby comes by the 31st, you can claim him on this year’s taxes!” Apparently premature birth and/or placental abruption are funny to some people. I'm not one of those people, though.
By Not Making Bathrooms Readily Available
Clean bathrooms should be available everywhere, for everyone, not just inside establishments for paying customers only. Every time I had to buy something in order to get a key or a passcode just to use a bathroom, I'd get mad for both my fellow pregnant ladies and for homeless folks. “This, right here, is why this whole city smells like pee.”
By Smelling Awful
Having a heightened sense of smell was one of the toughest parts of being pregnant for me. Occasionally, I'd end up near a bakery making bread, and for a time I lived right next to the best BBQ joint in my city, so our neighborhood often smelled like smoked perfection.
But mostly, the world literally stinks when you're pregnant. Fast food joints were a struggle, as was any individual or restaurant putting vinegar on anything. I could barely tolerate train stations and other spots that frequently smelled like urine. Sure, the world can't do much about random food smells, but we can definitely do something about human waste.
By Giving “Drive-By Diagnoses”
There are way too many Dr. Google, MDs out there telling pregnant women that we’re measuring too big, too small, are likely to birth prematurely or carry late, and so forth and so on. Unsolicited advice is annoying, but unsolicited, uninformed comments about potential medical problems are a whole other level of obnoxious, especially if you're someone who struggles with anxiety.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most pregnant women are now getting professional prenatal care, so society, you're officially out of excuses for dropping your uninformed medical opinions on pregnant women. #ThanksObama.