I know that I tend to rant and rave about things that other pregnant women likely suffer through quietly or don’t even see as troubling, and that’s fine. To each, her own. That’s why this is my blog and not someone else’s. I know that I’ve also alluded to the annoying culture surrounding pregnancy (and, I would imagine, parenting) by making snarky comments about the Bump app that I still use because I like a few of the entertaining bits of information that it provides; however, for more biological information, I just resort to my Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy (not that I couldn’t rant about different parts of that book, too, such as the cover of the book). This post, however, is about a very specific article that arrived in my email inbox yesterday morning from the BabyCenter–to be honest, I don’t even remember signing up for this website–because I’d officially hit week 19.
The link in my email message read, “13 perks to life post-pregnancy,” while the title of the article, once the link was clicked and I was taken to another page, read, “Things you miss most during pregnancy.” The title alone isn’t offensive, but knowing this website and the stupid articles I’ve read from it–why do men always draw the short stick in these things??–I had a hunch that I was going to end up with another blog topic very soon. Sure enough, the list that I’ve spliced in the “featured image” and inserted here for your full viewing pleasure appeared just below the title and its image of a (white) woman pouring another (white) woman–see the French-manicured hand–a glass of red wine. Leaving the whitewashing of the “perks of life post-pregnancy” aside, let’s get to the list that I’ve spliced.
On the left is the first part of the list, and on the right is the remainder of the list. What’s number one? Well, obviously the very thing depicted in the image: alcohol.
Now, I enjoy a good glass of Barbaresco or Tempranillo, just like any other red wine loving person. I can also enjoy a good bourbon straight, a whiskey ginger, a smooth gin and tonic on a hot day, a microbrew on the back patio, a rum and Coke, or whatever. However, alcohol sure as hell is not the first thing I miss about not being pregnant, but I’ll get to my own list of things I miss below soon. I think it says something toxic about our culture’s relationship with alcohol that, first, we ostracize those who drink too much but then, we (and by that I mean they) make alcohol the very first thing that pregnant women are supposedly missing about not being pregnant. We all know that pregnant women shouldn’t be going out on drunken benders every night, but there seems to be a lack of research done on the common suggestion of one to two standard units consumed once or twice a week as a low-risk amount of alcohol for a pregnant woman. Anyway, my point remains… leave alcohol either off this list or put it closer to the bottom. Would I like to have a glass of wine at night with dinner occasionally? Sure. But it’s not the first thing I’d say I missed.
Let’s return to this assinine list, shall we?
The next topic is favorite activities. Sure, some women enjoy throwing themselves out of planes, like my sister-in-law, or engaging in other high-risk activities or even just giving oneself a really hard workout at the gym. But, really, how many of us have such activities to miss to warrant this being number two on a list for “Things you miss most during pregnancy”? Wanna know what some of my favorite activities are? Reading, thinking about reading, talking to people about reading things, reading about reading, writing about reading, reading about writing, writing about reading about writing, and you get the picture. I also enjoy making messy pastel drawings and sketching and playing disc golf or hiking when our weekends aren’t too busy and playing video games and Skyping my family who live 1,100 miles away and many other things that have absolutely nothing to do with high-risk activities. For a list meant for the majority of us pregnant, this is absurd to include at number two.
Off-limit foods for number three should, for me, be either number one or number two. I miss unpasteurized European cheeses so badly, and I’m going to hop on a plane to England in three days. This is my first time in Europe being unable to eat all the delicious cheeses they have to offer, and that is absolutely tragic. But the foods mentioned in this list, if you happened to click on the link above, are a little silly. Runny eggs? Well, if they were referring to a runny egg yolk, then that’s fine, and you can totally eat that, pregnant or not. If they’re referring to an undercooked egg with the white still runny, then no, just no. You shouldn’t be eating that when you’re not pregnant. This is why you can’t eat raw cookie dough! Also, if you miss cookie dough so badly, go buy cookie dough ice cream and scoop out all the doughy bits. That stuff is mass produced and you’re allowed to eat it because it’s made that way! It’s not rocket science.
I will say, however, that two things I do miss most not being pregnant deal directly with food and are included in this list: sushi and enjoying food. I already told John that I will have a sushi feast as soon as I pop this baby out of me. I don’t care what he has to do to get me a decent sushi meal in a hospital in Tennessee, but, by the gods, he will do it. The other part, enjoying food, is a little more complicated and doesn’t have anything to do with what the woman listed as the reason why she doesn’t enjoy eating anymore: nausea and heartburn. I’ll elaborate below. But first this stupid list.
Caffeinating at will: um, you can still do that, just in moderation! Pregnant women can safely consume about 120mg of caffeine per day, and your average 8oz cup of coffee contains between 95mg and 165mg of caffeine. But guess what? That caramel frapuccino you love so much with just one shot of espresso? It only has between 47mg and 64mg of caffeine in it. That latte or mocha? 63-126mg. Black tea? 25-48mg. “Cola” (all this info is coming to you from the Mayo Clinic website)? 24-46mg. Or if you just miss being able to drink soda in general, well, Sprite, Sierra Mist, and the like are caffeine-free. One of my favorite sodas, root beer, is usually caffeine-free, and you can even get regular Coca-Cola caffeine-free. To be fair, I never over-caffeinated before being pregnant because if I drank too much during the day I couldn’t sleep at night, and I was already prone to insomnia without caffeine’s help. I’m also not a huge chocolate eater in general, so most of my caffeine was consumed through the occasional iced coffee or Dr. Pepper.
I have to say that this whole “drink caffeine in moderation” or “drink a low amount of alcohol if you have to drink at all” thing should be applied to our culture anyway. There’s a reason why most major religions preach moderation in consumption of all things–it’s good for your body and soul (or mind or whatever–fill in the blank as you wish). So, how is this news??
A normal sense of smell–AHAHAHAHAHA!!! I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT IS! I have never had a normal sense of smell a day in my life. When my sister was going through puberty, I couldn’t hug her because I could smell the hormonal imbalance radiating off her skin. Then, when I returned home one day from college, I gave her a tentative hug as I inhaled a shallow breath and then exclaimed, “Hey, you don’t smell anymore!” Yep, I’m that person. I told John that I couldn’t have married him if he didn’t smell so good, and I can usually tell when he’s getting sick because his scent changes. I have identified Altoids inside a bag inside a suitcase from across my apartment, and I can smell a person’s pungent cologne from a block away. This was all before I became pregnant. Now? It’s just slightly keener than usual, like I can tell you that the milk will be sour in two days or that there’s mildew in our towels so we should have washed them yesterday. But, to be honest, I probably could’ve noticed that before, but I was just less inclined to mention it. Why? Mostly because I’m the type of person to drink milk and eat food past its expiration date, something John has to force me to stop doing since if there’s bacteria in there, it might not harm me but it could harm the Rage Monkey. *shrug* You win some, you lose some.
That being said–I’ve never had a normal sense of smell so SHUT IT. You have no idea how lucky you are to even have a normal sense of smell to return to.
Peaceful sleep–I repeat, AHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Insomniac here, and when I’m not in full insomniac mode, I’m still a super light sleeper. A pregnant possum walking in the yard six feet away from my window once woke me up when I was a teenager. If John falls asleep before me, his breathing, his normal breathing, will keep me awake. Gods forbid he snores because then I’m just never going to sleep. We have a guest bedroom that I have made great use of because when I couldn’t turn my brain off enough to sleep with the claustrophobia of John’s breathing and Gizmo’s (our dog) cuddling and Kona’s (our cat) smothering, then I’d end up in there. Now, when it comes to sleep while pregnant, I have never slept so soundly. Sure, I sometimes have to wake up to pee–once, twice, four times a night–but I always fall right back to sleep. I’m also only 19 weeks along, so check back when I’m 36 weeks along. However, I have never in my life been able to fall asleep so quickly or so deeply until I got pregnant. Yes, I have vivid, surreal dreams, but that’s nothing new for me. The dreams that are new and weird are the mundane ones I’ve had, like having to clean a blowout diaper, the soft poop going everywhere. I’m just thankful that that dream didn’t come with any smells…
Cute shoes–I have never and will never wear stilettos. My feet are not swollen, and not all pregnant women experience swollen feet. That being said, however, I’d prefer to wear my Roxy slip-ons or my blue flats any day. Really, I’d walk around the world barefoot if I could. You can keep your “cute” shoes. I don’t do cute.
Feeling sexy–I FEEL SEXIER THAN EVER, DAMN IT! FUCK OFF! Keep your insecurities to yourself because they ain’t mine!!
A rocking sex life–Not to brag, but I still have a rocking sex life. Until I start feeling ridiculously uncomfortable, that’s not going to change. John finds my pregnant body sexy as well, and my libido has been through the roof since my first trimester. Yes, even when I had the worst nausea (in the evening usually), I was still having sex. Two words: morning sex. I still feel the best in the morning, and there’s no better wake-up call, which also happens to be spontaneous because it doesn’t happen every morning. Plus there’s such a thing called weekends when John and I can have “brunch,” or “lunch,” or an afternoon “snack.” Or all of the above. 🙂
Feeling capable and independent--FUCK OFF! I AM WOMAN. HEAR ME ROAR!!!! Even if I can’t pick up heavy things anymore–and let’s be honest, I have the worst upper body strength ever, even as a former basketball player, so I wasn’t doing that much heavy lifting to begin with–that doesn’t make me feel incapable or like my independence has somehow dissipated. And what about single women who don’t have a partner to pick things up off the floor for her or whatever? YOU MAKE DO, that’s what. In fact, I feel more confident and in control than ever, which seems ironic since I don’t really have control over what’s happening inside my body (then again, who does?) and I don’t have a job as of September 1. Sure, I’m forgetful at times, but that’s what John is for. Or my notebook or my phone or my phone’s calendar or my email. There are so many ways to keep track of forgotten things these days that I don’t consider pregnancy brain much of a detriment. It’s more like an excuse to be a bit absentminded, which is sort of nice.
Being visible and included–FIND BETTER FRIENDS!! Also, speak up for yourself. Damn, what is wrong with people? Maybe it’s because I’m just an asshole who tends to forget that there’s such a thing as a filter, but if I get tired of talking about the baby or my pregnancy, you can damn well be sure that I will tell you. As a woman who is almost 5’11” and currently 211 pounds, it’s not difficult to make people notice or see me, and if I have to, I will make them see me.
Pre-pregnancy body–HAHAHA. See above. Before becoming pregnant, I was still Amazonian–I’ve only gained about 10 pounds so far this pregnancy. I have always inhabited a body that was bigger than our culture says a woman’s body should be. I wear a size 14 in my pants/shorts, which isn’t plus sized although people sure seem to act like it is, a 12 in skirts/dresses, and I wear a medium in blouses and some dresses (so long as they’re short sleeved… long sleeves and I have a fraught history). Even when I was at my fittest in my freshman year of college–I didn’t gain the freshman 15; I lost 10 pounds–I was only 165 pounds, and this is when I was vegetarian, not drinking alcohol or coffee, and playing ultimate frisbee about five days a week (not to mention playing in tournaments all over Florida). And I’d have to say that 165 was almost too low for me; I think I was too lean, almost skinny, which does not look good on this frame. Today, I’d say my healthy weight would be about 180 because I’m just that large of an athletic build, and I’m not a competitive athlete anymore. Plust, my breasts are bigger than they were back then, and breasts don’t weigh nothing. LOL
Emotional control–WHY DO I FEEL THE NEED TO KEEP LAUGHING?? Oh, right, because emotional control? Me? NEVER. I was called a cry baby in elementary school because the slightest thing could set me off, which I proudly inherited from my Grandpa and Papa (and I’d rather be that sensitive than an insensitive asshat), and I have a personified, named internal rage, Stella. Let’s think about this for a moment… Yeah, emotional control is definitely not something I ever really had. Now, I just have an excuse to rant and vent more than before, poor John. He just looks at me now and says, “Okay, Stella.” Or “Okay, Rage Monkey.” Or, sometimes when he’s unsure, “Okay… Stella or the Rage Monkey? Enough.” It both makes me laugh and makes me realize that I’ve gone a little overboard, which quiets me. In case you were wondering, he’s the good influence in this relationship.
So that’s my response to that stupid article, but here’s my list of things I miss about not being pregnant:
- Savoring food, not simply enjoying food. I’m sad about the fact that eating now feels like a chore: to gain weight that I accidentally lost (I randomly dropped six pounds in three days one weekend and it’s taken me about six weeks to gain it all back), to maintain my equilibrium so that the Rage Monkey doesn’t upset my stomach, to hydrate enough so that I don’t get a headache. But I never get to sit down and savor a delicious meal just because I can. I’m not plagued with nausea anymore, and my heartburn is rare. I can eat pizza just fine, but the thought of greasy fried food makes me green around the edges. I want to be able to eat a few rolls of sushi and some sashimi with a nice hot sake, just take my time letting the raw fish melt on my tongue like butter or swirl the warm rice wine around my mouth before swallowing. Savoring, not enjoying, food is what I miss.
- Wanting, not needing, certain kinds of food. I have never in my life consumed so much dairy because I need it. The end.
- Variety in my food. This is related to number 2 because certain foods, we have found, work always. I’ve gone too long between meals: chug some whole milk. I need a snack now: eat a few pieces of watermelon or a Clausen dill pickle (no other brand will do). But I want to branch out and eat mango and pineapple again (haven’t had any in a while), or cooked asparagus, or a juicy steak cooked medium rare (no, let’s make that rare), or spaghetti and meatballs, or Ethiopian food! Curry! Pad thai! Camembert cheese! BBQ! Ugh, there’s so much I’m missing out on because of what I know works and what I know doesn’t work.
- Being able to eat dinner with my husband. Since John’s commute brings him home, at the earliest, by 7:45pm, I have already eaten not only my first dinner but also my second smaller dinner. Instead, I only get to share a popsicle or ice cream sandwich and a glass of milk before bed with him. I dream of the days when we can make dinner together–him cooking some kind of meat while I chop a salad–but now it’s just not feasible because of his commute. I have to eat dinner between 5:30pm and 6:00pm, and I should really be in bed between 8:30pm and 9:30pm although I’ve been bad about that several times (and once or twice I’ve regretted it as I hunched over the toilet bowl).
- My non-maternity clothes. I miss being able to wear the clothes I already own, like my jeans that are now way too tight. I miss the dress that is now too tight around the chest because my breasts seem to be about to grow another size. However, I can still wear all the same underwear because they were all low-cut enough that they don’t bother me. To the women who say they miss their skimpy panties and thongs, I would say, “Why aren’t you wearing them now?” Sure, there’s additional vaginal discharge that comes and goes during pregnancy, but how does that require one to wear “granny panties,” as they call them? I just don’t get it.
- Climbing stairs or walking long distances without running out of breath. I really don’t mind the fact that I have to walk more slowly than I used to, and for someone used to the pace of NYC, that’s saying something. And at 19 weeks, I’m still walking faster than half the pedestrians in NYC. *laugh-sob* What I hate is the fact that I climbed down the stairs to my kitchen and back up, and I had to take a breather, huffing and puffing as if I’d just sprinted down and up ten flights of stairs. For someone who used to climb 100+ floors on the stairclimber in the gym, this is really annoying.
- Normal vaginal discharge. When there’s a lot, there’s a lot. And it’s annoying and a bit icky. Enough said.
- My steel stomach. Before getting pregnant, I never threw up. I just didn’t do it. The last time I threw up was from drinking too much whiskey at our cousins’ Halloween party in 2013. Before that, it was too much hard cider on an empty stomach topped off with whiskey in Ireland in 2008. The smell of Gizmo’s diarrhea all over our fourth floor, non-air-conditioned apartment where it cooked in the hot August heat all day in 2009 didn’t even make me gag. Now? I cough too hard, and I might vomit (done that once already). My toothbrush is too big and hits the back of my throat? Here comes the vomit. TMI (humiliating and gross): I have a bowel movement and the smell of my own stink makes me vomit (happened once, and thankfully I had enough awareness of it to wipe and flush before leaning over the toilet bowl). I’d really like my steel stomach back, thank you very much.
And that’s about it on my list. I don’t miss alcohol much or caffeine. I feel better now about my body than I have in years; I feel sexy, beautiful, and confident. When my energy allows, I’m running around doing things–hell, I’m going to England to give a paper at a conference next week, going to Hawaii to give a paper three weeks later (both of which provide some kind of financial reimbursement or else this wouldn’t be possible), revising an essay for publication due in August, writing my first piece for an online magazine, moving to Tennessee, and so on. I take a lot of naps or give myself downtime when I can.
So, similar to the anxiety about body anxiety that pregnancy culture seems to espouse without realizing it, I think this list plants into women’s heads things they should be missing or feeling self-conscious about when that isn’t the case. Or isn’t always the case. And, like usual, my normal response to such ridiculous nonsense is simply “Fuck all y’all!”