Did you really just say that?

One of the things that surprised me about being pregnant the most wasn’t the swollen ankles, constant sickness or any of the other fun and slightly gruesome symptoms. No, it was other people and in particular middle-aged men – oddly enough.

From the day I began to properly show and it became obvious I was definitely pregnant and not just a bit more portly than usual, people began to make the most intrusive and ridiculous comments. The fact that strangers make comments and ask questions was not a total shock as there are plenty of blog posts, comedian’s sketches and references in general pop culture about this. However, the fact that the worst culprits were middle-aged men who were complete strangers was not something I was prepared for.

A few examples?

A male cashier in a supermarket asking if I was married or if I was a girl in trouble.

A male colleague asking if I plan on breastfeeding whilst making squeezing motions with his hands against his chest.

Another male colleague saying that I was selfish if I did breastfeed as my boobs should only be for my husband. 

Asked by a man in a hospital waiting room if I was planning on using curry or sex to ensure baby arrives on time.

Being asked what pain relief I plan on using so many times – being told an epidural was overkill and made me pathetic – being told that I was going to rip myself a new one and would need everything going – being told that if I took anything I would be being selfish and damaging my baby. All by men, who, coincidentally had NEVER given birth.

And my personal favourite;  whilst enrolling a man’s son at the college I work at the father asked me if I planned to deliver vaginally… and if so would I “be making” my husband watch? He then went on to explain that if I did I should expect him to cheat on me because it was “messed up” to expect any man to deal with that and not stray… Needless to say this man’s son and I were both sat with our mouths open and looking totally confused by his comments.

These are just a few examples of the top of my head, the ones that stuck with me the most. Now you may ask why I have only picked on the comments made by men? Because there were definitely unwelcome comments from women as well, ones that made me stop in my tracks and my jaw drop. But the reason I am picking on the ones from men is how they made me feel, I will try to explain this.

Firstly, when a woman makes a comment generally I felt happy answering back in whatever tone matched my mood at the time. Also when a women made a comment it had usually followed a conversation with them about childbirth or rearing, so I assumed it was made from a place of concern or interest in being helpful (I know this is not always the case).

Secondly, when a man-made these comments it was always completely out of the blue – I had never preceded these events with a conversation about being pregnant. Why did they feel like they had the right to suddenly ask extremely personal questions?

The scariest part is that when these men made comments or asked questions I was alone, or the only other people around were with the man. This made me feel very vulnerable and in a few situations a bit scared to respond without receiving retaliation.

Surely, by now, people are starting to understand that it is not acceptable to ask personal questions or judge extremely personal things about another person. I mean, what if I walked up to the security guard in my local supermarket and asked him what sexual position he preferred most? Or if I asked a male colleague whether he preferred to hang his penis to the left or the right in his boxers? Or perhaps asking a bus driver if he intended to make his wife go with him to a painful and invasive hospital procedure for support, and if he was then explaining why he was a selfish twat. Do you think this behaviour would be acceptable to these men? Do you think that they would just smile sweetly and change the subject for fear of my reaction? No, I don’t think so either.

So WHY is it still seen that pregnant women are almost public property? Why do you have the right to ask what I plan on doing with any part of my body? Why do you have the right to judge me for choosing one painkiller over another? Simply because I managed to grow a human inside me does not equate me to a vending machine that you get to poke and prod and input commands to your hearts desire in order to get a yummy goody out of me.

So from one woman to all the men (and women) out there, please, please do not ask or make invasive comments about a pregnant woman’s body or what choices she may make. You may not be so lucky and get one who is be brave enough to bite back and not just whimper and run away. ALSO (and more importantly) you have no right to make those judgements or ask for that information.

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Pregnancy Kicked My Ass

So, obviously it has been a while since I last posted and that is simply because – PREGNANCY KICKED MY ASS!!!

Sorry if that offends anyone, but seriously it is so true.

I’ve tried and tried repeatedly to get myself writing but it has just not happened. I have been so tired and exhausted and literally dead on my feet EVERY day that it was barely possible for me to function as a basic human never mind anything further.

Now that it’s over and my little man is finally here I am so grateful that I am not pregnant any more. I feel awful that every morning I wake up and think “thank god it is over!” I know that I should be thankful that I managed to conceive, carry and birth a healthy happy baby – and believe me I am. Yet, I reiterate – PREGNANCY KICKED MY ASS!!!

Line Severinsen’s book of comics about pregnancy is hilarious and worth a look.

I struggled with Pelvic Girdle Pain, horrific heartburn, sickness throughout my pregnancy, sheer exhaustion and oh just being ridiculous uncomfortable. By the end of my pregnancy I was attending weekly physiotherapy sessions for my PGP and basically living on the sofa as any movement at all was horrifically painful.

Basically I am writing this post as a bit of catharsis, because I know how lucky I am to have my baby boy here. However, I feel really guilty for feeling so awful and hating pregnancy so much. I feel like I am mocking women who aren’t able to get pregnant or have happy healthy babies of their own. But I need to remember that by hating pregnancy, I am not mocking them or minimising their experiences. I need to remember that I am entitled to acknowledge that I was uncomfortable and I really couldn’t wait for the experience to be over. I need to remember that every woman’s experiences of fertility is valid and not to be ignored.

Looking at the discussions about pregnancy and women’s experiences you can see that it is fraught and difficult. Firstly because it is a difficult experience, not necessarily a bad one for every one, but the process of getting pregnant, carrying to term and birthing a human being is complicated no matter who you are. Secondly, because of the way that people treat women regarding their fertility – from constantly asking “so when are you going to pop one out” right through to treating pregnant women as public property (something I’m going to go more into). Finally, the way that the woman feels about the whole process is something no one can quite quantify and yet is judged and picked apart at every stage.

Anyway! I am now three weeks postpartum and I am currently juggling my laptop, bouncing the bouncy chair with my foot and repeatedly sticking the dummy back in my little boy’s adorable gob (why has dummy sellotape not been invented?!). As you can tell if you have got this far, my writing is rusty and my brain a bit like mush – but – I am glad to be at least giving it a go!

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