Throughout both pregnancies, I was asked this almost every day by somebody – on the train, at work, maybe in the queue at the store – right after “Do you know what you’re having?” (yes) and “Is this your first?” (no).
How I wanted to respond: I’m really tired, the toddler is running me ragged, and I’ve got really bad morning sickness. In fact, do you mind moving away because the smell of your coffee is… never mind. I’ll move.
Oh, it was straightforward enough, save the nausea, low iron, and pelvic pain rendering me immobile. But I never suffered awful pregnancy complications – no gestational diabetes or hyperemesis. Nothing really scary. My babies were healthy. Nonetheless, I really didn’t enjoy it.
That’s not to say my pregnancies weren’t welcome. I wanted and planned for my babies desperately. I very much hoped for a family, and it took its sweet time to come about. But when it did, being with child…not fun.
So when people actually invited my opinion on the subject, I enjoyed a good moan about it.
“You should be grateful, you know. Some people can’t have children.”
“Well, you knew what to expect. It’s your own fault!”
Thanks so much for asking.
I started wondering whether these critics had a point…
When asked how my bump was treating me, should I simply nod my head and say fine through pursed lips? Is that what people were expecting to hear?
Is it bad form to complain when you are tired, when you are sick, when you are plain old fed up, because you are carrying a baby, because some people aren’t that lucky?
How about when you know (more or less) what it’s going to be like, and then – shock! horror! – do it to yourself (well, not exactly, but you know what I mean) for a second or subsequent time? Should you suck it up and take everything that pregnancy throws at you with a shrug and a forced smile?
I say no way.
Just as some love the newborn stage and some hate it. I was pretty shamefully bad at both and yet, despite this, I really wanted a family. And I knew I wanted children who would grow up close in age.
Even after I’d experienced pregnancy first hand and was fairly certain that I wasn’t “glowing” throughout, I also knew that both it and the newborn stage were temporary. They were something that had to be endured so I could achieve my end goal. It would all be worth it, one day.
But right then, everything sucked. Peeing a hundred times at night, having a core temperature that could bake cakes, being unable to get in and out of bed without assistance, having the bladder control of a newly potty-trained toddler. And it’s not like I could head to a bar and drown my sorrows in a vat of wine, now could I?
Definitely, in my view, worthy of a cathartic whinge.
There are, I discovered, enough of them about. Use some common sense, of course. Judge your audience. Don’t go complaining to your friend who’s trying to conceive. That’s just tactless.
But if someone neutral asks, then in my opinion, it gives you free reign. Complain away! It’s good, it gets it out. We wouldn’t want the good old pregnancy rage bubbling over, would we?
Disagree? Do try and remember that not everyone is the same. You, your wife, your sister, or friend may have sailed through pregnancy with no complaints, or hundreds of silent ones. But we are all different, and every pregnancy experience is unique.
Do you wish more than anything that you were pregnant? Bear in mind that, when you get there, it might not be how you expect it to be.
That’s the way the world goes. It doesn’t mean that my problems are not valid, thank you.
Besides, if no one ever complains, then we perpetuate that stereotype (myth?) of the blooming pregnant lady, glowing her way through all three trimesters in her designer maternity clothes and running shoes.
And then, when you’re pregnant and thinking hold on a moment, this is utter shit! because you’re tired and hormonal and feeling like a beached whale, you already feel like a failure before you’ve even earned the label of mother.
You aren’t. A failure, that is. And you are a mother.
I’m a year in to being a mum of two now, and I can very much say that the aches and pains... They were worth it. My little family is (mostly) a joy, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I might not be winning 100 percent of the time, but I’m not failing. I’ve created some awesome little people there if I do say so myself.
But I’ll never forget how rubbish pregnancy was – so much so that I would never, ever, do it again a third time. When I come across a pregnant woman, I always ask her how she’s feeling, really.
I will always listen. And I will never tell her to suck it up.