Wednesday, December 10, 2008

People Are Strange When You Are Pregnant

People said strange things to me when I was pregnant. Most of it I was able to take in stride, but some of it really threw me for a loop. Early on in my pregnancy I took a trip down to San Diego to visit family. Figuring I needed the practice, I chose to sit at the front of the plane where all of the parents with small children congregate. Surrounded by small wriggly beings I took careful note of how these parents were handling the task they had undertaken. Most seemed to be enjoying parenthood, but the woman next to me seemed to be having difficulty. Her small son,who having just learned to walk refused to sit quietly in her lap, preferring instead to arch his back so he shot out of her grasp and to the ground where he could kick his heels with impunity. Blowing her bangs off of her sweaty forehead she turned to me, eyebrow raised quizzically and asked, why in the love of God I had chosen to sit with all these children if I didn't have to. When I told her I was pregnant she waited a beat, then snapped, "Well stop now, before it's too late!" My poor mother had to spend the entire ride home from the airport, talking me down.

By the time I attended a baby shower for a friend who was about to deliver her first born my condition was much more obvious. While we watched the mother-to-be open her gifts a women, about five or six years my senior took the seat next to me and asked when my baby was due. After a few minutes of polite conversation she indicated her red-headed son playing a few feet away and said, "Don't be worried if your baby is ugly." I must have gaped at her in surprise because she hurriedly went on, "My son was hideous when he was born, and on some level I was aware of it, but as ugly as he was, I thought he was the most beautiful thing ever. All I'm saying is don't worry if your baby isn't cute." It was great to be able to anticipate, after that conversation, the arrival of my little Quasimodo.

Then there was the helpful labor and delivery nurse, who assured us that once our baby arrived, we would become callous to anything we previously held dear. Remember how they tell you to bring a focus object with you to the labor and delivery room? Something meaningful that you can direct your energy into when you begin to tire of laboring. I brought a picture of our pet chinchilla Chillie with me. I know, I'm a dork. Taking a peek at the photo, our L&D nurse announced, "After this baby is born, you won't care about your pet anymore. It'll just be one more thing around the house that you have to take care of." The worst thing about it was that she was right.

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