Bump Squad mama Audrey on being sensitive to all the differences.
"Every pregnancy is different." I must have heard it a million times, but I don't know if I didn't believe it or if I just didn't heed the warning. I figured it was just one of the many cliches people blurt out when they encounter a baby bump. To some extent, it may be just that. However, it's true. Kind of like the monkeys that will supposedly duplicate Shakespeare if given enough time, some cliches have to stick at some point. I really thought I had this pregnancy thing covered. I mean, it hadn't been THAT long since I was last pregnant. It really wasn't going to be THAT different, right? Ha. Hahaha.
First of all, I don't know about all of you, but apparently I repressed ALL memory of my first pregnancy. Sure, there are a few highlights... like I remember not being able to sit in any semblance of a "ladylike position" during my maternity shoot, like my body just wouldn't bend that way, and I was so frustrated because I couldn't get into "cute" poses. I remember what my eating schedule was during my first trimester, because there was a definite schedule, and as long as I followed it, I felt generally okayish. I remember that I had this weird symptom of losing the sense of other peoples' presence. I was really easy to sneak up on for several months. Combine that with decreased bladder control/capacity and have yourself tons of fun!
Those highlights weren't enough to prepare me though. The few things that are similar, I just totally forgot. For instance, I'd forgotten about the emotional rollercoaster and preggo rage. I told my husband, "I just don't remember it being this bad!" He said, "Are you kidding? You're SO much better this time! You were a mess last time!" Between him and my diligent journal writing from my first pregnancy, I do have a bit of a window to the past. But the problem is: that was THAT pregnancy and this is THIS pregnancy.
From day one... okay, so week five, if we're going by the book, this pregnancy has been completely different. The first time, I knew I was pregnant the day I couldn't keep my eyes open at work. This time, I had a sliver of a hunch that I just might be pregnant because of anxiety attacks. Nothing seems familiar or the same. Except the heartburn. That feeling of gargling battery acid will be forever etched in my memory. But now there's new leg cramps, new sciatica, and all new maternity clothes, since I'm so much bigger.
So if all pregnancies are different, and I'm not even an expert on my own pregnancy, why does every passing stranger profess to know exactly when I'm going to deliver, what sex the baby is, and how many babies I'm harboring my gigantic bump? And women who have had children seem to be the worst offenders! If you have miracle cures for my varicose veins, by all means, keep talking. But please, if my OB doesn't know exactly when I'm going to deliver, then how would you know?
As much as I would love to have a schedule of the ins and outs of this particular delivery, I don't think Random Lady Pushing Shopping Cart Through Big Lots is the one to give it to me. She disagrees. She knows that I'm going to drop my baby "any day now". By the way, I'm still three months from my due date, my bump is still nice and perky, and the baby is measuring right on schedule. I don't mind my bump being topic of conversation. Shoot, I don't even mind unsolicited belly rubs. Seriously, I don't mind. What irks me is that, while the unknown keeps me up at night, all these women can just cavalierly throw around predictions with absolute certainty.
It hasn't been lost on me that my blog posts seem to have a running theme: everyone else's reactions to my pregnancy. For better or worse, the comments and reactions of others affect us. My takeaway from all of this is that what I say can, in turn, have a positive or negative impact on someone else. I hope that even once I've repressed the memories of this uncomfortable pregnancy that I will at least remember to be sensitive to future pregnant mamas, whether they are breezing through their first pregnancy, struggling with their seventh, or still trying to conceive.
"Every pregnancy is different" may sound like a cliche, but it's about the most honest thing you can say to an expecting mother. Reminding her that no matter what well-meaning advice she receives or how many horror stories she hears, her pregnancy is her own. My pregnancy is my own. I will support her. I will cry and laugh with her. I will even give advice when it's sought with the caveat that while it worked for me, she may not find it works for her. Above all, though, I will make her feel like the goddess she is for braving pregnancy and parenthood. That means no comparisons, remarks about her size, or predictions. If every pregnancy is different, even my own, how dare I make her feel like hers should fit into a certain box.