A few weeks ago, the husband and I started taking a 3-week Lamaze/childbirthing class at the hospital. Over the course of those three weeks it would be a total of 9 hours of breathing, meditation, myths and facts about labor, and even exercise balls. Let’s set the scene: another conference room, this time with only chairs arranged in a horseshoe shape; and the childbirth expert in sweatpants and socks, armed with baby dolls, cervical diagrams, and a newsprint pad. And probably a 5-hour energy in there to boot. While this time the class was made up of more than just one other couple – there were about 10 couples total – the instructor still made time to have us bond a little. Ick. What are you having? When are you due? How far are you from the hospital? What do you do for work? A little too much sharing for me, especially since we’re not there to make friends… we’re there to get these babies out of us in a painless, efficient way. The fact that we spent nearly an hour just sharing about ourselves would have bothered me more if the woman didn’t talk so damn fast that I didn’t notice it was happening. And at first the questions were innocent fact-finding. Then as she turned the conversation into the educational portion, she asked us pregnant people to answer – no hiding here – “What do you like about being pregnant?”
Being seated in the middle of the horseshoe I had some time to consider my options, all of which were horrendously unoriginal and cheesy, but all of which were true. I was too busy thinking of what to say I didn’t notice the eye rolling that had been happening in most of the other women. Then the instructor pointed to the first woman to require the answer, and it was, “Nothing. I’m not a big fan” of being pregnant. The instructor moved on. “Me too, I’m not a big fan. I can’t run anymore, that’s really frustrating.” The instructor tried to pull something out of them but they wouldn’t give. Finally, the fourth woman, who was seated next to me, said, “All the weight I’ve lost.” She then explained she had been so ill during the first six months she lost 25 pounds, but has summarily gained it all back, though she recognized it was for a good cause. Her husband chimed in, “It took us so long to get pregnant in the first place that I think we don’t think about the weight.” As a fellow infertilite, I was a little hurt by their answer; though I’ve never been in her shoes and I don’t know how bad she had it, was it really that bad that the only positive thing she could share about being pregnant after four years of trying was that she threw up so much she lost weight? (And poor, supportive husband, trying to redeem his wife’s answer by explaining they were infertile! Something tells me he might just be the infertilite.)
I ask you, dear reader, is that how you envision yourself at 7 months pregnant after several rounds of IVF?
So you could see how when the spotlight turned to me I felt nerdier than Sheldon at ComicCon saying, with all honesty, “I like having a little partner with me everywhere I go.” Yes, super cheesy. But yes, I’m never alone (and he never lets me forget it!) and all I think about everyday is that what I do, he does; what I eat, he eats; what I feel, he feels. Because no matter how bad things might get – and I do have to admit I’ve had it easy – I am truly thankful just to have him with me, going to work with me, stealing my food from me, keeping me up at night. How could you not be? And I have to wonder about the other people in the class and the lot their were dealt; was it an unanticipated pregnancy, a difficult pregnancy, maybe inconvenient timing that led to this undercurrent of resentment? Or is it that as women we tend to downplay the rite of motherhood as a burden to the modern woman?
I’ll ask that question the same way the instructor did: How many positive birth stories have you heard? Probably not many. I get that childbearing and child rearing is some kind of badge of honor that only women get to wear. But why does that badge always have to be described as “The most horrible pain in my life” rather than as “You’re a strong person; you’ll get through it (and maybe you’ll even love every minute of it)?” Yet when you’re trying to get pregnant, no one ever says to you, “Why on earth would you want to do that?” They just wait until you are pregnant to say it.