Pregnancy: that glorious nine months when a woman’s skin glows, her hair is a thick, shining mane….and hormones wreak havoc with every other part of her being, from her appetite to her temperament to her complexion to her inability to quash nesting and shopping impulses so strong she may end up with onesies in 16 colors long before an infant has begun to emerge from the cocoon that is her womb.
To be perfectly clear: I am not pregnant! In fact, I’m about to release my eldest child to the “real world” of college life for the first time, which involves labor pains of an entirely different variety.
Pregnancy, however, is on my mind, as last week at the Nobles County Fair, I spotted an adorable but bursting-at-the-seams young woman in an advanced stage of maternal expectation. She wore a swingy top and sported a toothy smile, yet that distinctive maternity waddle and the sense she was truly grateful for the cooler weather could not be denied. When I later learned she has several weeks yet to log before Baby is due to arrive, I felt both sympathy and envy for her.
Being so visibly pregnant, you see, is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you are guaranteed plenty of attention.
“When’s the baby due?” “Is this your first?” “My sister-in-law carried like that, and she had a boy…do you know what you’re having?” “Can I feel it kick?” (This spoken after a hand has already been intrusively and firmly affixed to your bulging belly.) Or, “You poor thing! You look positively miserable! There’s no way you can last another two months. You’re already as big as a house!”
Thanks for sharing, right?
But I made it through three pregnancies, with two babies born in October and another born in late July, so I know just how delightful it is to carry full- or nearly full-term babies through the hot summer months–and I’m not talking about a relatively cool summer like this one. Even so, I had the misfortune (and I know many of you may quibble with this contention) of never looking quite as pregnant at any stage of the game as I actually was. This was due in part to my height (5’9 1/2), but also because my babies weren’t enormous (my largest was 8 lbs.,1 ounce).
Any sane female likes a good measure of sympathetic tut-tuts, offers of help with armloads of groceries and understanding nods when it takes her awhile to rise from a chair. If you don’t appear very pregnant, though–and during my first pregnancy, I encountered people who didn’t realize I was pregnant even when I was a mere six weeks away from delivering–you forfeit all that sympathy, despite carrying the load of feeling as ill, hungry, tired, kicked (from inside) and weepy as your over-the-top PG counterparts.
One of my much shorter (and short-waisted) sisters-in-law suffered through at least four months of people thinking she “must be due any minute,” but I have carried the scars of my three wee ones in the form of unsightly and uncomfortable varicose veins ever since they “popped” (don’t you love how men use that word?) out. Trust me, we all pay a price.
When the world held its breath, hunting vainly for Princess Kate’s baby bump (might I point out she is 5’9) after Buckingham Palace announced the impending birth, you’d have thought her pregnancy was concocted for the purpose of selling more gossip rags–until she brought forth a healthy, 8 lb., 6 ounce Prince George and promptly got more tongues wagging with commentary about the “mommy tummy” clearly present beneath her stylish blue-and-white polka dot dress when she walked out of the hospital less than two days later.
Whether babies are carried high or low or cause Mom to look big or small, moms everywhere have in common the “baby bumps” that recur many times along the road of parenthood….all the way to the doors of college residence halls.