Being pregnant isn’t for sissies. It brings a lot of interesting things, not the least of which is hormonal mood swings. Some handle it better than others; I handled it by bawling.
It seemed that almost anything would bring me to tears when I was pregnant:
“How far along are you?”
“Oh look. Your nose is swelling up like mine did when I was pregnant.”
“Oh, you poor thing. Pregnant in July? That must be awful.”
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
You get the idea.
Opinions Are Like . . . Bellybuttons
I couldn’t go out my front door without a helpful hint from a complete stranger when I was in the family way. One day, when I was exceptionally pregnant with my first son, my mom and I were walking around her yard when a neighbor lady came outside. “Lordy, Mary, she’s about to pop! Does she have a doctor?” she called across the clothes lines between Mom’s yard and hers.
Did I mention that pregnant women also experience the phenomenon of being talked about as if they are not there? I welled up with tears at the behemoth reference. They grinned knowingly at the hormonal watermelon smuggler standing there in stretchy pants and a polka dot tent shirt with a giant red bow at the neck. Do I have a doctor? No. I planned on delivering the baby myself. And whoever designed maternity clothes in the late 80s should be forced to wear them every day for nine months straight.
One of my aunts gave me a great piece of advice: “Make sure you don’t name it, even though the doctor told you it’s a boy. You never know what might happen. You could lose it.”
Are you kidding me? I cried for a week over that one.
Another friend of mom’s made sure to get the message to me that I should never raise my arms above my head or else the cord would tangle around his neck and he would be born dead.
What were these women smoking? I felt like I was in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Safe to say, none of these women would ever babysit.
Road Trips -- Just Say No
My ex used to love amusement parks, so of course it made perfect sense to take his 8 1/2 month pregnant wife to Kings Island. In July. Between my visits to the medic station for cornstarch to apply to the burning flesh of my chapped thighs, I encountered groups of pre-adolescent boys who pointed and laughed as I waddled past with all the grace of a bouncing football. Joy. I was another attraction.
I wandered around most of the day dabbing my eyes with wads of amusement park toilet paper once the medic station ran out of Kleenex.
Another perfect destination for a claustrophobic, pregnant girl? A Cincinnati Reds baseball game! Pregnant women have to pee. A lot. No, it can’t wait until the 7th inning stretch or until the game is over. I’m claustrophobic under the best of circumstances. A claustrophobic, pregnant person trapped in a stinky bathroom stall while hundreds of women try to push their way in is the stuff of nightmares. I snarled my way out with one arm wrapped around my belly and claws and fangs bared. Of course the rest of the family was gone from their seats in the stadium when I made it back. I had no idea where they went.
That was not a good day. I spent much of it sobbing into hot dog napkins that vendors handed to me as I duck-walked past them, searching for the family that abandoned me (They were actually waiting at the exit).
Once I found them, they decided it would be fun to go into town. A Taste of Cincinnati was going on, and I hadn’t met my daily quota of heartburn inducing hot dogs and chili at the stadium. I doddered around tables of food until it started to rain. We took shelter under an overpass. Joining us: Half the population of Cincinnati.
No, Seriously -- Claustrophobia!
Something curious happens to a person who is claustrophobic and heavily pregnant when she is forced to share space with a thousand elbows, huge purses and lit cigarettes of drunk baseball fans. Pregnant lady begins to panic. It’s not pretty. As more and more people took shelter with us, I was pushed deeper into the center of the mass huddle. I couldn’t breathe. Hands and elbows and purses and lit cigarettes threatened by belly, while distorted, beer-smelling, laughing faces stole my breath. I sniffled and then bawled into my soggy gyro napkin.
My mother in law was a good egg, though. She directed the family to form a barrier around me and my watermelon belly. We moved like synchronized duck-walkers out of the mass of sweaty, stinky bodies. And then the air came. I didn’t even mind the rain.
It’s Always Time to Pee
On the drive home, I needed to pee. Imagine that. I brought it up and was ignored. I brought it up again. Ignored again. “Listen. If we don’t stop, I am going to pee in the car.” Screech, and off at the next exit. They did love that car.
Walking into the service station, I encountered a group of men who complimented my condition with nice words like, “Pretty lady” and “I hope the baby is as pretty as its mommy.” I walked back out of the station with a new box of Kleenex.
When questioned about what was wrong now, I could only reply through sobs, “They *snif* said *snif snif* I was *snif* pretty. Waa!” Everyone always seemed to laugh when I cried. Sadists.
Pregnancy just about tapped my lifetime reserves on waterworks, although I still never leave home without Kleenex (A girl can't be too safe). I eventually got over crying about shampoo, Kodak commercials, pot roasts and new socks, but to this day I can’t see a Reds game on TV without bursting into tears.