Parenthood changes your life immeasurably, but being pregnant shouldn’t mean that a woman loses all sense of self.
"If you see me out, and I'm drinking water, it's not because I'm pregnant. It's the medication I'm on," an acquaintance told me recently. Later that same day, I met up with another gal pal after work and, as we sat down at a table in the bar area of BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 Frontage Road, Suite 244, 601-982-8111), she immediately said, "I'm not drinking, but I'm not knocked up. I'm on antibiotics."
Such preemptive explanations are de rigueur in my social circle these days. Just a few weeks before these exchanges, I figured out that two other friends drinking water at social events were pregnant before they officially announced the big news. One friend recently tallied up 20 ladies she knew with a family on the way. As the saying goes, maybe there really is something in the water.
It's interesting to see how we deal with changes in our lives. For those who go that route, marriage and giving birth are arguably two of the biggest ones. And, if you notice, both change the way we interact with each other. Pregnancy alters not only what women drink, but even conversations.
Some people respond to news of a pregnancy with oohs and ahhhs and ask lots of baby-related questions. In contrast, I treat pregnancy like I treat, well, babies or anything else that makes me uncomfortable: I act like it's not there and carry on as usual (The man in my life observed that I prefer animals the way I prefer children: large and docile, as opposed to tiny and high-pitched.)
My approach to pregnant women remains "nothing to see here." Doing so allows me to ignore the fact that my friend's body has a thing with tiny hands and feet growing inside of her, which, when you think about it, is completely freaky.
Sometimes this works for me, as in the case of a friend I met over a mocktail (for her) and wine (for me) at the Library Lounge (734 Fairview St., 888-948-1908). The friend happens to be in her fifth or so month (the whole "counting by weeks" thing baffles me). We barely acknowledged it except that she had to figure out how to order a drink from a bar without alcohol ("I don't think I've ever done that before!" she bemoaned).
Instead, we discussed hair products, work, what we're reading, and it was lovely. Also, the table hid her bump, so my "ignore the elephant in the room" tactic (no, that's not a knock on baby-weight gain) worked. She admitted that she's still rather in denial herself, so we were both OK with that.
Other times, I feel guilty about my lack of enthusiasm for all things baby. At the last baby shower I attended, I worried that it looked as if I were in a live-action version of that song, "One of These Things (Is Not Like the Other)" from "Sesame Street." I certainly don't begrudge people for being pregnant; I just personally have no desire to be and simply have nothing to contribute to a conversation about Boppy Pillows.
I try to have fun. Being the girl who leaves practical gift-giving to others—let the people who are moms contribute nursing-related things—I'm the one giving you cute bath towels and socks. Because babies don't really wear shoes, right? I don't even know.
And not knowing should be OK. We should be able to figure out how to do things in the way that's right for us, without pressure to feel or act a certain way, whether it's our approach to parenting or our decision to become one. Parenthood changes your life immeasurably, but being pregnant shouldn't mean that a woman loses all sense of self. While I imagine it feels a bit "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," it shouldn't make your body a public commodity. Another pregnant friend remains appalled at the number of people compelled to reach out (without her permission) to rub her tummy. Such an act would be wholly inappropriate, except for the fact that she's gestating a human.
All that said, I have many baby showers on my calendar over the next few months. Hopefully, at least some will include stronger beverages for those who aren't incubating a tiny person. Regardless, I hope the mommies and non-mommies alike can relax, relate and celebrate life in all the ways we live it.