No matter how much you read, research, and prepare, I truly believe that there are still events that will throw you for a loop when you first find out that you’re pregnant. For me, this began immediately after I peed on the stick and saw the two lines appear, answering my inquiry in the affirmative, but that’s a story for another day…
About four weeks in, my husband and I still had not told anyone and I went to lunch with my best friend, Katie, who also happened to be the only close friend I had that already had kids. Two, in fact. She had also been my Maid of Honor only four weeks before (did you catch that math?) and, as I had already suspected, she too was pregnant and was about a month ahead of me. It was only fitting that she would be the first to drop some “mom bombs” on me.
I confided in her that I was worried because I would be the first of my college friends to have a baby. Keep in mind, I was 28 years old, so it’s not as though I was early to the party. It just so happened that most of us had spent our twenties doing twenty-something things. We’d continued our education and begun careers and had put off marriage and starting a family. I was worried about how having a kid on my hip would change the dynamic of our friendships. I didn’t want to be that one friend who always brought a crying baby to brunch or girls night. I had suddenly found myself in a whole different life stage from my peers, and it was lonely. Katie laughed. No really, she laughed out loud. Then she said, “Oh, Lindsey…you’ll find new friends!”
Those words hit me right in the gut. I couldn’t believe how insensitive that response was! Perhaps she misunderstood me; there is nothing wrong with the old friends. I don’t need new ones. I need to find a way to keep our friendships the same and not burden it with a kid. Approximately nine months later, I totally understood what she meant.
I’m not going to lie to anyone; my relationships changed. It did get harder to just drop what I was doing and go out for drinks. I was pumping and breastfeeding, so even one beer can really become an intricate dance. First feed and then consume your drink as fast as possible. Then there was the waiting game and the alcohol detecting strips. Trying to get my supply clear before I could nurse again. Hoping this will happen before we have to unfreeze what precious little I have saved up. Feeling the pain of being engorged and questioning whether it was worth it to feel normal for one hour.
Additionally, it didn’t get less awkward for me to be the “odd mom out”. Most of my friends were super supportive, but some still weren’t wild about the baby tagging along. There were also one or two that I suspected actually resented my baby. Some people didn’t understand why I couldn’t just stick the baby with her dad and go away for a night. They’re not bad people, they just aren’t moms. They haven’t experienced the guilt of unfreezing milk because they don’t know how hard it can be to get a stash. They don’t realize how emotionally draining it can be to be away for even one night (A few hours? Yes. A whole night? Nope!). This does get better, though. These same friends are getting ready to get married and some want to start having families right away. We are almost 30, you know! The dynamic changes, and people catch up.
Also, you begin hanging out with people you never really did before. I had acquaintances and mutual friends that I have become great friends now that I’m a mom. We have a significant common interest! We want to talk about the same things and when we hang out, we’ll both have kids in tow so there’s no worrying about bringing the mood down over mimosas. Katie was right; you will find new friends. As for your old friends, it might change, but they’re still there.
Another lesson I learned the hard way is that people are VERY intrusive. Even strangers on the street (or in the campus book store, as I found out) had no problem invading my space in a personal way. Don’t get me wrong because I’m pretty hard to offend. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I’m usually the person who takes the joke too far. But people who were once so modest around you now want to know intimate details about your anatomy. And even though you’re not touchy-feely (and they know this), they suddenly think that because you’re pregnant they should be able to give you a cervical exam.
At about 32 weeks, I asked to tag along with some of my husband’s relatives to pick strawberries and my mother-in-law’s answer was, “Well, are you dilated?” I wasn’t ready for that; I hadn’t even had coffee yet! In all honesty, I had no idea whether or not I was dilated. I did know that strawberry picking was likely to be a mild enough activity that I could safely partake in it. It did, however, make me self-conscious enough that at my next pre-natal appointment I asked the midwife examining me how I could tell if I was dilated or not. Her reply was nothing short of extraordinary. She looked at me with a straight face and answered, “Um, well, I could stick my fingers into your vagina and tell you. I don’t recommend it, since it means nothing at this point…but if that’s what you want, we can do it.” I respectfully disinclined.
As I mentioned, it wasn’t only relatives who were curious about the state of my lady bits. Strangers tried to get in on the action as well. When I was about 35 weeks, I was walking across the parking lot at work and a man who I recognized as the cashier at the campus bookstore began running toward me. When he got about ten feet away he stretched both hands outward and exclaimed, “Okay. I just gotta feel your belly!”
As a general rule, I don’t like being touched in the first place, but now I’m also feeling especially vulnerable and self-conscious in my ultra-pregnant state. I don’t know a single woman who likes having her belly rubbed, but I can assure you that none of us suddenly turn into golden retrievers once we get knocked up.
Because I was at work, I didn’t feel empowered to tell this man, whose name I still do not know, to kindly back the fuck off. Instead, I went with a stammered, “I don’t really let people do that.” He persisted, “Oh come on! It’s just a baby!” Ummm, yes. And it’s in my body. He actually appeared insulted that I would not grant him permission to put his slimy hands on my body and feel around. I don’t know where this entitlement comes from, but I do know my story isn’t unique. I should have just walked away, but because I was at work I felt strange being rude. I countered, “It’s not even moving right now so there’s nothing to feel.” Again, I know I shouldn’t have had to justify why I didn’t want a strange man to touch my body and try to feel my baby, but it happened. His response was an abrupt, “Well, how would you know?” He was now obviously agitated and offended at my reluctance. I cut the argument short with an excuse about being late to something, but I wish I had told him how I really felt, which was that it’s inappropriate and rude to try and grope someone’s overripe uterus.
I fielded a lot of questions about my weight, my appearance, my bloody show (yes, really) from people I barely knew. People asked if I planned on breastfeeding and if I had cravings to eat dirt! I was not just surprised at the content of the questions, but at their frequency and by whom they were asked. When you’re sporting a baby bump, people just assume you’re comfortable describing processes most only whisper about in their gynecologist’s office. What I learned from these experiences is that if I ever do this again, I hope I have the confidence to tell people when it’s really none of their damn business.
What is something that you didn’t expect about being pregnant? Share it in the comment section below!