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Publicly pregnant: How the world makes a very pregnant mama grumpy

Sarah_thirtyfive_weeks_pregnant_tal Oh, geez. When I went into pre-term labor, I hoped it meant I would be shortly whisked away from the world in which everyone wants to know (a) when are you due? and (b) is it a boy or a girl? They're flummoxed by my mystery; really, when is the baby due? If only I knew. And, as it turns out, our ultrasound technician was focused on other things and NO I'M NOT GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER ULTRASOUND.

But my baby, it is not as eager as I'd hoped to enter the world. So as I approach week 37 (tomorrow morning by my calculation), having been two frickin' centimeters dilated for nearly five weeks now, the contractions that had been frequent have faded away. I'm never having this baby (at least not until I schedule the c-section which will likely be necessary if the baby goes even one more day in my tummy).

Hence, everyone has something to say. I must be so hot (men always offer this tidbit), I'm about to pop, I've dropped (or I'm having a boy, or both), which means I'm going to have the baby imminently! Right, but the wise women on the bus were telling me that last week. Lovely. I've tried everything to stimulate labor, from energetic walking to a brew of blue cohosh and pennyroyal (not recommended!) to buying more maternity clothes (avoid that too! bad for your budget).

I want to be grumpy but it is a bit amusing, how the belly gives your average stranger the power to overcome his or her timidity and just ask any question at all of you. And though sometimes I dream of a shirt that says, "I don't know when the baby will be born, whether it's a boy or a girl, nor do I care if it might share a birthday with anyone you know," well, I suppose it's nice that people are still smiling at that woman with the gigantic round belly, the largish rear end, and a scowl on her face. Were any of you this easily annoyed while pregnant? Please share!

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Especially at the end, I often felt like a public art installation that people felt free (or felt compelled) to comment upon. The most innocent stroll (waddle) thru the park became an exercise in dodging unwanted remarks.

In my perverse view of the world, it was more ok to have some odd thing visited upon me by the neighborhood wino who was distracted from rummaging thru my recycling bin - "You musta been busy" - than the woman who shook her head knowingly & then said "oh just you wait; this is the quiet time." THANKS A LOT, LADY.

I'm sure the hot weather isn't helping your grumps much either. Hope you've a wading pool to stick your poor feet in...

PS - great foto, though -- where's the scowl?

Oh yes. Oh my goodness, yes. Those last few weeks I was grum-PY! I especially hated those comments like, "Oh honey, this is the easy part ..." (They were wrong, come to find out - those weeks were way harder than anything my daughter has visited upon me yet!). You're gorgeous - feel free to scowl at every living thing that annoys you, soon you'll be in new baby bliss!

No. I really wasn't. I was so grateful. All of a sudden I started to feel really connected to the community around me, one that I had presumed would ignore me, or be annoyed by my slow, bulbous body.

When else do men off street make an effort to empathize with our feelings? When else do people make eye contact, or even smile?

I liked listening to everyone's birth stories, even the "horror stories", that people save for those moments when they see a preggo mama stopped in a grocery line, or crowded against a bus seat (no one ever gave up one of those for me, though.) I knew my experience would be different than theirs, but it didn't take much time out of my life to listen, and there's always something to learn. And I couldn't help but see a little hint of my future, as I watched these women describe the days of the stirrup, or the shared birthing rooms. Not that I'd be made to suffer those indignities, but that in 30 years I might find myself spotting a young, hopeful mother and feel compelled to tap into and share one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

I was blown away by the people around me. Before pregnancy, when I saw a pregnant woman I'd treat her like anyone else; no extra smiles, no extra courtesies. Just another perfect stranger. I was so grateful that I was acknowledged when I was pregnant. Now, I make a huge effort to make eye contact, and smile, and give up a seat. And like I said, even though I don't feel old and wise enough to do it now, I imagine that at some point I'll start pulling out birth stories.

I was grumpy during the last weeks, but more so at being so uncomfortable and ready for birth. However, I do recall being asked if I was having twins at the playground by a young au pair. That made me grumpy. By this time in the pregnancy, I think you tire of answering the same questions or caught in the same conversations especially when your anxious and focused on the impending birth.

oh boy...this post made me laugh out loud! I just had my second baby, a beautiful little girl, three weeks ago yesterday. I can't say I was grumpy toward other people in those last few weeks, but definitely grumpy due to just wanting to have the baby out (!) and finally meet her. But comments people made were incredibly humorous to me and my husband. Although, it did get to be predictable as to what people would ask (why I laughed so hard when you mentioned the shirt with the "answers" on it). When I was at my most tired, it was a little tougher to answer the gender/due date/etc. line up of questions with a smile on my face.
My favorite comment is "wow! you're about to pop!" to which I always wanted to reply with, "oh my God, you're right! Take cover! I'm about to blow!" But I really got a kick out of answering the "when are you due?" question with an honest, "tomorrow" or even better, "yesterday." People would actually physically back away from me with widened eyes, as if the baby would just SHOOT out of me at any second, or as if this whole baby thing was contagious. It always made me laugh.
On the day I delivered, I was delayed in the grocery check out line by the line up of questions, once again...and my water started to, um, leak. Hard to make a quick exit while waddling with bags of groceries, but I made it. And knew that the next time I was in the grocery store, I would be getting a NEW set of questions...."girl or boy?" and "how old?" and then the, "oh, she's precious" and "congratulations." It's really quite amazing how a pregnant woman and then her newborn child really bring out people's oft dormant friendliness. It restores my faith in humanity...
Congratulations! And best wishes for a speedy and joyous delivery!

And don't forget the people who just walk right up to you and put their hands on your belly - without asking first! And I loved the comment my father-in-law made when I was about 2 weeks away from delivering my second child - "Boy, you're a lot bigger with this one, aren't you?" When in fact I weighed 10 pounds less with baby #2 than with baby #1. I hope your grumpies don't last long. Good luck!

I had a patient say to me when when I was 8 months pregnant, "I can tell you are having a girl, for sure." When I asked how she could tell, she said, "Because of the way your butt looks!" I tease her about her statement now, because everyone else thought I was having a boy, for sure! And sure enough it was a girl. I often show her my butt and ask how it is looking now! I actually didn't mind that comment as much as the patient last month who asked me if I was deliberately trying to gain weight!

By the way, it was 2 years ago this day that I was lying in bed at 10pm, praying for the fireworks to end in my steaming hot attic bedroom, 37 weeks pregnant and thinking I would just die if I had to wait another 3 weeks to give birth...but as luck would have it, on the morning of the 6th, my water broke, and 18 hours later I had my baby. So maybe the fireworks will do it for you too! Oh no, another birth story!!!!

I found that my pregnancy was healing for everyone else, especially strangers. The miracle of life draws people out of their shell and it made me feel connected to a greater reality.

I had more trouble *after* the baby was born. Everyone wants to know how the baby is sleeping, what he's eating, what kind of diapers he wears, etc!!! And then give you advice on how to be the right kind of parent and how this or that method is the right one. I finally decided my parenting style is my own business and started answering questions vaguely--He's doing just great!!!

Blessing on your birth!

i, too, remember those 'enjoy your peace now' comments...when every position leaves some part of your body aching, you're always hungry but can't eat much, it could be thirty below and i'd still be sweating, oh man, 'peace' indeed! i enjoy my (albeit brief) repose sooo much more now, even with a very very busy little six m/o! ah, it was a bit hard to adjust to suddenly being public property, i often envied my hub his ability to be 'pregnant' on the q.t.!
hang in there!

I never minded all those comments so much, but perhaps it's because i love attention and also had my baby 4 weeks early and didn't have time to get sick of it. :)

also, i think it really is indicative of how powerful this all is (pregnancy, birth, mamas and babies), and how even the most random people can't really help but be affected by that energy. it's definitely crazy.

and on second thought,the only comment that bothered me was when people thought i must be SOOOO hot because i was pregnant in the summertime!! i was always like, "are you crazy? i get to run around naked and barefoot and pregnant and lay by the river and eat endless amounts of watermelon... this is the life!"

Isn't 37 weeks early? I was told that anything after 36 weeks is okay, but my OB wouldn't even hear of inducing until 39 weeks, even with gestational diabetes. With my 2nd, I was induced at 37 weeks, and boy, howdy, he was a little "creature" compared to his sister. We couldn't even get his eyes to open for pictures. His sister on the other hand was social, with eyes wide open. Those last few weeks seem to prepare them to interact with the outside world.

I was sooo grumpy at the end. I dilated to 3 at about 36 weeks with my third and just stayed there.

I didn't mind the comments. Made me feel special. What did have me super grumpy in those last weeks was the ridiculous need to pee constantly. I would runnnn to the bathroom and then a quarter of thimble-ful of pee would come out. All that drama for THAT... A couple times I didn't make it to the stupid bathroom as well, which .. well you know the result. So annoying. Second issue was the sleep or lack there of. I couldn't get comfortable no matter what I tried. Hang in, the kid can't linger in there forever.

I love this post, and all of the comments...I'm 34 weeks along now and as I enter the last (several?) weeks of pregnancy I wonder if I'll hit the grumpy stage this time. I delivered my first at 37 weeks, so I never got to the super pregnant, desperate to deliver stage.

The thing that cracks me up (and renews my faith in people too) about being publicly pregnant is all of the offers for help, and how people jump out of the way when they see you coming. I dont think of myself as someone who needs to sit down on the MAX, but the seats clear when we step on. And I always get a kick out of the little 80 year old lady insisting on opening the door for me at the store!

This post is great! I was definitely grumpy in those last few weeks - now that I am pregnant with my second, I think I am more touchy! My favorite comment to date has been the "when are you due" with the slight inflection suggesting that I am so huge right now it must be tomorrow, and when I tell them October, the look on their face, together with reminding me (as if I didn't already know) that I have to survive the long hot summer is enough to put me over the edge. Like another post, I am actually a lot smaller this time and have not gained that much weight, so if I hear one more "geez you really look pregnant", its not the baby that will pop, but I might pop them :)

My other fave comment comes from my own mother who finds it humorous to say with regularity (typically when my 2 y.o. is having a meltdown) "just wait until you have two" or "you think this is bad, how are you going to handle two" - as if I have some choice about it now and could turn back :)

The best is having people off the street, people in your profession, etc. come right up and touch your belly uninvited - truly my fave.

All that being said, being pregnant is such a miracle and when I wasn't pregnant I always find myself drawn to pregnant women, wanting to know the same things - when are you due, is this your first, do you know what you are having - so I just embrace this curiosity as my own :)

To the person that said, "isn't 37 weeks early?" I agree. I learned a lot about what happens in the last 3 weeks. One thing is the development of brown fat, which nourishes the baby until your milk comes in. Therefore, I got a lot of pressure from the baby "professionals" to supplement, and practically had sugar water poured down my newborn's throat along with about 4 drops of collostrum (I have no idea how to spell that so I did it phonetically!). Also, during the last crucial weeks, the baby learns to suck, and perfects the technique. After 3 months of using a nipple sheild due to poor sucking, I would definitely urge all pregnant women to cross their legs and stay put for another week or two! I was just so happy to be done with it, but I also kind of grieved that I didn't get my "9th month" of pregnancy. I almost felt cheated! But in my case, and in most cases, I didn't have a choice, my body and my baby decided for me. But by then, the heat and fireworks made me very grumpy (so sorry Sarah!). I am having flashbacks right now as I write this on July 4th at 10:30pm as I am wondering if my neighbors will ever deplete their supply of pyrotechnics so I can get some sleep!

When I was pregnant with Philly, we were still in New York. Most people on the subway were trying really, really hard not to make eye contact with the big ol' pregnant me. I'd sway through the subway cars literally bonking peoples heads (most of which were buried in their newspapers) trying to get some notice. My poor swollen ankles needed to get a load off! I even labored on the subway (going from to and fro the doctor's office on my day of labor), and I had one offer for a seat toward the end of my ride. So, I guess that was my instance of being grumpy due to *lack* of noticing me and my pregnant belly!

While I wasn't grumpy about the impending labor, I definitely hated the word "pop". What was hardest for me was having my due date come and go with no signs of labor. I went 13 days over the first time and 9 days over the 2nd, the wondering every night whether I was going to go into labor was the worst.

I love all your stories! to clarify in response to the "isn't 37 weeks early?" question, my doctor and I both agreed that my (almost) only hope for having a VBAC was to have the baby significantly early -- 35 or 36 weeks. I really, really don't want to have yet another surgery if I can help it at all! I've had two c-sections after pushing for two hours, despite having tried everything from pushing hanging from a bar to going entirely without pain medication to, well, I *really* tried. The verdict is that my birth canal is just too small, or shaped wrong, to birth a normal-sized child. Thank goodness I live in the 21st century.

So for me, getting to 37 weeks means that almost all hope of a vaginal birth is gone, greatly increasing the grump factor.

Nonetheless I found myself actually enjoying trading birth stories with strangers tonight at a 4th-of-July party my husband dragged me to -- I guess hearing about how awful the whole birth process was in 1959 makes me way more happy about having a baby now, even if it WILL likely end in yet another c-section. At least my doctor's willing to give it a go, and I won't be strapped to a table for the process!

and Leah -- I agree with your comment about people here going out of their way to get up for you! I'm pretty comfortable and mobile in my huge, awkward body (relative to some, anyway) and it's almost like people fight to give me a seat on the bus -- even though I often would be fine standing up, I always sit in the seats offered me just because I want to encourage that kind behavior toward the next pregnant woman ;)

I do have to share a not sharing seat story.. I was on the bus from SF to Marin. It was at the end of my pregnancy with Ella and no one was offering their seat up, again faces buried in newspapers, so I asked a man to get up. I have never seen a 50 something business man hop to so fast. It was a long day at work and I was very tired. I think it's ok to remind people to do what's right.

I only really got grumpy on the night before I gave birth to my son. I was coming home from work, packing the laptop since I never knew if I'd be coming back the next day, and it was hot and I was tired and awkward and I tripped and fell on the sidewalk in downtown Portland. Laptop went flying, tore a hole in the knee of the last maternity pants that fit me. NOBODY helped me up or helped me gather my things. It was the first moment of my pregnancy that I just felt DONE with being pregnant. And I was so lucky to go into labor the next morning and BE done!

First of all, I invite you to rub the belly of every stranger who thinks it's magically OK to rub YOUR belly just because yours happens to have an occupant. That being said, I was in your swollen shoes a year ago (my second was born July 11) and it was a bittersweet time. Knowing this was most likely my last pregnancy, I loved every stage of it and I enjoyed and found camaradarie in the special knowing looks and grins I got from other mamas. However, I was READY to be done with the pregnancy part and get on with the mama part. Fortunately, pregnancy DOES always come to an end, and you WILL get to meet your little one soon. Hang in there and continue finding the humor, grace and wonder of this unique time in your life. I look forward to reading the post when you announce the impending arrival!

A funny (and embarrassing) thing happened to us at the airport a few weeks ago and I was reminded of it today when our toddler Anders was talking about my "huge belly" and "huge nipples"...gotta love the frank discussions a toddler gets you into!

We obviously have been talking a lot the last several weeks/months about the baby in mama's belly, and the fact that soon that baby will come home to live with us... Anders seems to understand the concept and often notices and comments on other pregnant mamas that we encounter around town. Fine...

So we're getting ready to board a flight a few weeks ago and Anders noticed a man with a rather large belly...and immediately asked us, "does he have a baby in his belly too?" My husband and I looked at each other and didnt know whether to laugh hysterically, or to be completely horrified! It was definitely loud enough that the man could have heard him, but thankfully, I dont think he did...

oh, yeah i was grumpy at the end. i had sh@ron kitzhaber (former gov's ex-wife) as me, at jamison park, if i was having twins. (NO!) i was huge, i know. but people. don't ask that question. ever.

sarah, i think yours is the cutest belly i've ever seen. if i looked like you when i was pregnant i might have 10 kids!

I think it's normal to be grumpy with a big ol' belly in hot weather (one of our kiddos was born at 39 weeks in August), but also try to remind yourself what a privilege it is to be pregnant at 37 weeks. We had twins born prematurely who died shortly after their birth and miscarried this August's baby--there are a lot of us out there who would give anything to deal with the ridiculous questions and discomfort that go along with a big belly and healthy pregnancy. I learned with my first pregnancy (our twins) to enjoy every second, because you never know when it might be your last moment with that baby, or last pregnancy. Not to be preachy :), but sometimes I think it's good for pregnant mamas to be reminded how lucky they are.

Cyber hug to you Kirstin. xoxo

I am 12 weeks pregnat and I am already sick of people giving me advise, telling me everything about their pregnancy or how wonderful children are... In the meanwhile I am feeling like I am the fatest ugly girl in town, and I just want to be left alone while I try to manage my nausea. So I do not image how grumpy I am going to feel by week 37...

Although I do appreciate the honesty of everyone here about feeling grumpy, etc.--I concur with Kirstin above...pregnancy is truly a miracle. We have several friends who have dealt with/are dealing with infertility and/or loss and this has made me realize how truly lucky we have been. It always amazes me how much people "complain" throughout their pregnancies. Yes, it is uncomfortable at times and for some people much more so than others, and your body DOES feel different--it should, there is a tiny, beautiful human growing inside of you. I also felt like I connected in some small way, on a human level, with people when they asked all the questions, as I realized that many were simply trying to reach out and share their own experiences as a way of relating to you as a woman/mother-to-be/parent. This is not to say that I always engaged in lengthy discussions about it all, but I did come to realize that they were mostly coming from a caring place. My motto with both of my pregnancies when people asked how I was doing/feeling was..."fat and happy"...

Many positive thoughts to you, Sarah, as you progress through the coming days/weeks!

I never had the balls to do it, but when I was pregnant people would touch my belly with out permission I really wanted to reach over and put my hand on their butt or boob...or something. Seriously, under no other circumstances is it socially acceptable to touch someone blatently, except for maybe a polite tap on the shoulder: "excuse me" type thing.
My husband and I actually talked about making a tshirt that said the exact same thing!
Miracle or not complain all you want. You have every right.

Kristin, my heart goes out to you, and I do know (a very little) how you feel; my sister-in-law had a baby only a few weeks after I miscarried my second pregnancy, and every negative emotion she expressed was like a dagger through my own loss. it was a very difficult time, though now, we're sharing pregnancy and birth (she just had full-term twins last week), and it's wonderful.

I *do* actually love being pregnant, nearly every minute (85% of them maybe?) but I just can't get over how little tact some people have and how they keep pressing on and offering advice...

Hope that wasn't taken as never complain...people can drive you crazy, and sometimes you need to vent! But I know that the gratitude I felt for my full-term pregnancy (and the others) helped me enjoy even those moments with strangers and to see the true intention those silly people had--they really were just interested, or curious, or wanting to talk about their own experience because it was such a special time in their lives that they missed. Seeing that and feeling supremely lucky helped me treasure even those odd moments of attention for my little miracle. Good luck!

Sarah, did you see my post here: http://blog.rookiemoms.com/do-you-feel-anything-happening/ on this topic?

Not to brag... but I had a successful VBAC at 39.5 weeks last week. I hope the same for you. Happy to share details if you email me privately.

Just to update everyone...Monroe was born at 11:40 pm on July 9th, a successful VBAC as well! Congratulations to Sarah and her family. We wish them well, and I'm sure you will see her updates on the site.

Hau, wait: Is Monroe a boy or a girl?

Baby boy, Monroe :-)

Seriously. I'm quickly approaching 37 weeks (not quickly enough though). And I am sick of the stares. Sick of the old guy at church who greets me every weekend with "How you doing with those twins?!?" For the millionth time I'm not HAVING TWINS!! And I can't help but to wonder if he's staring slightly above my belly when he says that.

I'm sick of people asking the sex and then asking "Is that what you wanted". Like it friggin matters. Baby's don't come with receipts and 30 day return policies if it's not what you wanted!

"Wow. You're having you're baby in the Summer? Aren't you hot?" It's Texas! It's July! It's 101 degrees! Of course I'm hot! Aren't you?!?

From one grumpy pregnant lady to another... I understand.

I love that I found this. It is a godsend. My due date was three days ago and this has been the longest 4 weeks of my life. Its not just the repetitive questions (howareyoufeelingwhenareyoudueisitaboyorgirlhowareyoufeeling that have now changed to whenareyoudueohmygodanyminutenowwhatstakingsolongdoyouthinkitwillbetoday???), and its not just the discomfort, and the swelling, and the heartburn, and the peeing, and the seeing yourself in photos and realizing how much bigger you are than you think, and its not just the WAAAAIIIIITTTTTINNNGGG, its the combination of ALL OF IT. And, especially now that we've passed our "official" date, its the constant conversations about when he's coming as though we have any idea or power over the situation, and sometimes the vaguely annoyed inflection as though we're holding out on people. I know its out of love, but seriously?? The worst is, I know I've asked all the same questions and made all the same questions and this is all deserved payback.
I actually really enjoyed most of my pregnancy and, despite being asked first and foremost how I was feeling by every single person I spoke to as though I were dying (and really, do they actually want to have a conversation about swollen feet and heartburn? Probably not), I was able to waive off the negative stories and silly advice because the whole experience was actually turning out to be much cooler than I'd ever anticipated and even the stomach touching was not so bothersome (although I did originally plan to put my hand on the crotch of any man who did it, but in the end it just didn't faze me). But now it is really the waiting and being ready to start the rest of our life with this little bean, and really just being OVER this whole pregnancy phase that has me ready to slap anyone who wants to talk about it. And as someone said earlier, miracle or no, I refuse to feel bad about my grumpiness and impatience to start my life with my child. And its AWESOME to hear from other people who feel my "pain" and can relate to what I'm going through because right now NO ONE ELSE AROUND ME CAN. Please don't make people feel bad or guilty for what they're going through any more than they would ever do to you. Venting is why this forum was created.
On another note, I've actually enjoyed the vague sweetness of people opening doors and smiling at you on the street as though you're just a nicer person because you're carrying a baby. It makes you want to be a nicer person to prove them right.

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