Monday, March 17, 2008

Certified and Certifiable, with a Rant on the Pregnancy Industry

Thank you for all your good wishes. Despite that my teaching demo today was not so hot, I got fully certified, which may be nothing short of a miracle brought on by all y'all's good wishes and crossed fingers, toes, and eyes. So thank you all very very much.

I was so exhausted today. I slept over at the folks' house -- and was so stressed about whether or not I was going to get certified (and probably just hormonal as well) that I was totally unable to deal with them. There was actually a moment when I was getting pregnancy advice when I put my hands over my ears and said I couldn't take anymore pregnancy advice. Not my best moment. Then I came home and Absurdist Lover and I got in a total fight about money -- I'm tempted to say because now that I have a job we can fight about money, but I don't know if that's really true. We're both stressed beyond our limits and in our tiny camper . . . well, who else can we fight with? Have I mentioned that my hormones are raging? Not a great combination, because I end up crying about everything. Oy vey.

So I have a job! Yay! I didn't relearn geometry and other scary things like functions and factoring for nothing! So now I can finally turn my attention to other things -- like the fact that I really need to investigate why the pregnancy industry and their incessant advice (no sushi, second-hand smoke passes through the placenta barrier, pregnancy diets, make sure to work out and eat well or you'll be prone to a list off bad things as long as my arm topped with post-partum depression) pisses me off so much. A friend of mine told me that when she was pregnant, she sought out advice. I find it thrust upon me -- in every book, on every website. Now, of course, if I really didn't want some information, what am I doing looking at the websites and books? Well, of course I want the information, but I'm not a great fan of its presentation. Here I guess I'm talking about rhetoric. Most of the time it's implicit (though I found a shocking website that said this outright) that if you don't follow all the guidelines, eat properly and not too much, stay away from certain foods, stop drinking completely, and work out all the time no matter how shitty you feel in the first trimester, you are a bad mother.

Of course being careful is a good thing. Eating well and working out are good -- if you can manage them. (Hello!!! Some women are throwing up everything in the first trimester -- or even throughout the entire pregnancy! Luckily, I am not one of these poor women, blessed merely with constipation, queasiness, exhaustion, and tummy upset and the occasional bout of insomnia.) But what pisses me off about most of these books/websites is that they make already scared, hormone-addled, exhausted women who can no longer judge what their bodies are capable of feel even more deficient. And that is just plain wrong. Women have been having babies forever -- or else we would've died out long ago. Do we really need the part of the pregnancy industry that thrives on making women feel even more alienated from their bodies, making women feel less confident in themselves, making women feel more like shit? To modify Bridget's statement to Mark Darcy: they really needn't bother. I already feel like shit most of the time anyway. With or without the fireman's pole. (Okay, I just threw that last line in there because it makes me smile.)

Can I just say how many people don't know that you're "advised" not to eat sushi during pregnancy? My dad didn't know! (My stepmother telling me this as if I hadn't heard it a thousand times and have been in mourning since the first time I heard it was the thing that made me put my hands over my ears.) Of course, Dad doesn't have to know. He never has to give up his favorite food in the world for something that feels most of the time like a bad knot in one's middle. (Bastard.) Absurdist Lover quite reasonably says that giving up sushi for nine months is a small price for a baby -- that having my life turned upside down for about a year isn't so bad. Of course, he is being totally reasonable. Blech. It wasn't until he admitted that the world does indeed harangue pregnant women -- everyone thinking they know best and totally disempowering the mother -- that I felt I could even deal with someone so insistent on being obnoxiously reasonable.

What can I say? I'm totally hormonal and crazy most of the time. I know my responses are out of proportion with the stimuli. As you might guess, the knowledge that I'm being unreasonable is not usually enough to get me down from the walls.

Lest you think that I'm just a crazed freak, the hormone pendulum does swing the other way -- and then I marvel at my pooched belly (okay, probably just with the ice cream I now let myself eat) and thickening waist. Since the pregnancy is at ten weeks, Absurdist Fetus is like an inch long. According to those week-by-week websites that I can't stop myself from looking at, AF looks like a baby and has even developed his/her reproductive organs and things. It's pretty amazing. I saw myself in a full-length mirror this morning -- and I kind of thought I looked fecund and beautiful. Beautiful like a very full rose, not a bud. Sort of brimming with hormones. I can't describe it.

Anyway, later on when a young woman in my training class asked me if I were showing, I could've kissed her for just thinking that this pooching tummy could be just the way I was built. (I realize now that I shouldn't be so happy at this thought, but I'll be showing in minutes -- minutes, I tell you! so it was kind of neat to think that when I walk around people still can't tell. I feel so thick. Of course, when they see me going straight to the bathroom in Whole Foods, they can probably tell -- but at least strangers are not putting their hands on my belly like I'm a Buddha statue and they need some luck -- not yet.) Being pregnant makes me feel so different in my body it's not like I often forget about it. And with the glow that family members insist I have (not to mention the annoying whiteheads on my face that I was so happy to grow out of at nineteen), I kind of feel like everyone can just tell. Of course, other times I want to tattoo it on my forehead and on the bumper of my car: I'm pregnant so stop being an asshole and play nice. I'm fragile.

I think that's enough ranting. I swear I will come up with something else to write about soon. Like maybe annoying high school students (exciting!) or how writing a conference paper sucks (woohoo!).


Sisyphus said...

Hooray for a job!!!!

And ... huh, I was going to say, get well soon? But that doesn't really work. I'm sorry that the pregnancy industry attacks everyone as "bad mothers," but you know, everyone keeps right on doing it after the kid is born, too, from blaming helicopter parents to child spoilers to "momism," my favorite. Maybe it's jealousy (and fear) because they can't actually produce miniature human beings...

At least they haven't made you give up chocolate ... have they?

Maude said...

it's funny to read this (in a good way, not "i'm laughing at you" way) because last night SB was on his way to the store and I said, "okay, get wine, cheese dip, and donuts." his response, "oh my god. are you pregnant?"

"uh, no, just dissertating, and they were eating donuts in Monk."

he must be secretly reading your blog. he talks about kids a lot lately.

congrats on being certified!/certifiable! (hee-hee) and congratulations on employment and everything! yea you!!

and don't worry. i offer you no pregnancy advice, only support. just save all the things you learned, contrary or not to all the "perfectionists" and save it for me. i should probably follow it now--just to take care of myself!

medieval woman said...

Congrats on getting certified! And I hope you feel better soon - it's nice that you're *not* throwing up everything in the first trimester!

I once saw a billboard with a picture of Mary breastfeeding the baby Jesus on it. The caption read: "If it was good enough for Him, it's good enough for your baby" or something like that. It was from the breastfeeding Nazis who think that if the baby drinks formula instead of breast milk it will become a serial killer or something. I know it's *better* for the baby, but jeez. No pressure!

Marcia Feitel said...

Congratulations! You probably remember more geometry than I do now.

Here's my take the onslaught of advice--this is one of the few times the otherwise powerful 'make you feel bad about the way you look' beauty industry can't get at you, so this is filling an insecurity-generation vacuum. Substitue 'look fat' for 'bad mother' as you wish.

Maude said...

hey, p.s. i tagged you for a meme.

Earnest English said...

Thanks everyone. You make me feel like I'm not totally insane. Marcia and all, you are totally right. Of course society preaches at us -- at everyone. I think I'm just super-vulnerable right now. It's hard when looking for information to get so much alarmist crap.

Sis: chocolate is my friend. so is ice cream. i will be one fat mama. i don't care.

zombieswan said...

I vote society remove the word "bad" from being allowed to be near "mother" for anyone who is not, like, leaving their children in the car for days.

You are allowed to be a human while you are pregnant. Don't let all that "advice" freak you out. (Here I am, offering advice). But you're right; women can have babies and not turn them into mutants without all the books & websites et al. My personal preference was for MUCHO Ben & Jerry's, and cheese (with real cheddar) sandwiches, with real mayo & wheat (that 7 grain stuff. MMMM) and a big glass of milk every night. It made me feel wonderful, and I probably needed all that calcium, seeing as how I was forming two whole babies at once. If you think it's fun being pregnant, imagine people going "wow, you're huge! How many babies are you having, anyway!" Yeah. Thanks. :)

The breastfeeding and baby advice will make you crazy. Try to find someplace sane that you trust and then block out everyone else. :) (Again. Sorry about the advice-- but it's advice about not listening to advice, right?) :)

They will NEVER take chocolate away. Or else. (And some people will try. But screw 'em. They can keep their own shame spiral. I ate as much of it as I wanted and my babies are just fine. If a little chocolate crazy.)

Jane D said...

"I saw myself in a full-length mirror this morning -- and I kind of thought I looked fecund and beautiful. Beautiful like a very full rose, not a bud. Sort of brimming with hormones. I can't describe it."

But you have described it. Beautifully. This reader is all choked up over you in front of that mirror and the image of your already one-inch baby growing inside!

So sorry to hear that things are hard right now.