As everyone knows, the act of getting yourself pregnant is all fun and games. It was for me, but that’s a story for another day.
I went into the whole pregnancy thing expecting to have morning sickness for 2 or 3 months, to feel like a beached whale, and to give birth the natural way within a few days of my projected due date.
Boy, was I in for a shock. I had morning sickness from what seemed like the day I conceived both kids to the day they were born. With my first pregnancy, everything started off all hunky-dory. I got the usual morning sickness, all the usual first-trimester symptoms- the stuff I expected to have. What I didn’t really expect was to start developing issues with different foods and smells. That is to say, it got to the point where virtually every smell I encountered was enough to make me gag, and the only foods I could eat were pepperoni sticks, Ensure shakes, and rice or potatoes that had been drowned in Hoi Sin sauce. Ggaining weight got to be kind of tricky.
Then, there were the boobs. Now, I’m not exactly on the small side to begin with, but almost as soon as I got pregnant, those things got freakishly huge. I felt like I had a pair of balloons stuck on the front of me. The real problem was, they were also very sore. I felt like wrapping them each in packing paper, duct-taping a box over my chest and cramming Styrofoam esses in there, just to keep those suckers from moving around, or… you know… even being breathed on.
As soon as I started looking even vaguely pregnant, it was as though I sent out some kind of telepathic cue to every well-meaning belly rubber within a 10,000 km radius. Suddenly, everybody wanted to rub my belly. There was no respect for personal space, no sir! It didn’t matter if they were close family, or a complete stranger; it was kind of creepy, really. It was basically like I’d morphed into some kind of good luck Buddha statue, or one of those little troll dolls that were so popular in the ’90s. Every 5 minutes, it seemed like someone wanted to rub my growing bump, or ask me about the baby. I, for the most part, accepted it gracefully. There were a few times, however, that I really had to restrain myself from going completely hormonal on those people.
They asked whether I knew the gender yet, if I had any names picked out, what schools I wanted to send the baby to, and what my career plans for it were. They came out of the woodwork with advice on what to do, what not to do, and how to catapult my child from one end of life to the other. If I’d listened to everything, I would have either become a paranoid parent, or I would have had the strong urge to punch the next do-gooder who told me that bottle feeding was the root of all evil.
For the first half of each of my pregnancies, I happily answered all those questions, and listened to all that advice, as politely as I could. I do try to be a nice person, after all. For the last half of my pregnancies, since I felt bloated, uncomfortable and hormonal, however… I was not so nice.
Downright cruel sometimes, even.
On one particular day, I was about 8 months pregnant with my daughter. Summer had taken hold, and it was a particularly hot day. I’d just gotten on the bus to go home, having been downtown running some errands that morning. I was feeling ill, sweaty, uncomfortable, and generally bad-tempered, and I was about an inch away from bringing all that out on the next person unfortunate enough to speak to me.
It happened to be a little old lady. She sat in the empty seat next to me, smiling in that particular way that let me know what was going to come out of her mouth next. She leaned over to me a little, with a polite smile on her face, her floral perfume nearly making me gag.
“How far along are you?” she asked.
I could have just told her I was 8 and half months on, but that would have been the level-headed thing to do. I was feeling anything but level headed.
“I’m not pregnant,” I blurted out. “I’m just overweight.” I even managed to look close to tears. It was a pretty Oscar-worthy performance, actually.
For someone so small and frail-looking, she back-pedaled pretty quickly. A stream of apologies spewed from her mouth, and I’m pretty sure she turned a brighter red than her lipstick. I left her groping for something to say, as I got off the bus.
Normal Me would have smiled indulgently and answered nicely. Pregnant Me, however, figured it was perfectly O.K to behave like I had a particularly nasty case of PMS.
My partner came into the bedroom to ask me what was wrong; after I got home, I slammed the door, and hurled myself onto the bed to bawl my eyes out. I still can’t remember what I managed to choke out between sobs, but he tells me it was something about whales, old ladies, stupid buses, and perfume. Since he didn’t really understand what I was saying, he did what any sane person with a pregnant and hormonal partner would do: he backed away and ran to get the chocolate.