A friend of mine (the mother of one of my daughter’s classmates) said hello to me at a school function a few weeks ago. After pleasantries were exchanged and she noticed I was on my way out with one of my kids in tow, she asked a seemingly harmless question.
“Oh, hi. How are you?”
“Great. Busy. How are you?”
“Me too. Always. Oh my gosh, are you pregnant?”
Before you are outraged for me, before you rake my innocent acquaintance over the coals, read my level-headed reply.
At this point I looked down at my belly to wonder at her confusion. I’m not fat. Chubby, maybe. Zaftig, yes I would appreciate that label very much, thank you. But pregnant? My new pea coat hits at hip level, bringing the pockets to my waist. The coat is boxy, and I thought it stylish when I bought it. Even a little daring because I usually hide my ass. Not in this coat. Then I noticed that I had shoved my suede mittens deep into the pockets, inflating the coat and giving it a rather roundish appearance.
“Must be the gloves,” I said, removing them so there would be no doubt.
My friend was immediately embarrassed and said something like, “I know better than to ask that. I’m so sorry.”
The funny thing about this interaction is not that I was offended or that anyone thought I was pregnant at 44 (which is entirely conceivable *ha! pun* although rare). The funny thing (at least to me, anyway) was that I reacted as if someone were suggesting I get pregnant again.
“Hell no!” This response says so much, doesn’t it?
I had two relatively uneventful pregnancies, but I lived in constant fear that something would go wrong because I have a chronic illness and because I refused to believe my doctor when she said everything was fine. When you know as many people as I do who have had traumatic miscarriages or diabetes or high blood pressure, you tend to worry.
Aside from the worry, I was crazy uncomfortable — not just the swelling and itching and waddling and not being able to tie shoes. Not just the exhaustion or weird cravings or irritability. No, I was nauseous every waking moment of both pregnancies. At the baby shower my mother-in-law threw for me, when I was just entering my third trimester, I spent half of my time throwing up in the bathroom. At work, I yelled up the stairs hoping my friend Leslie would hear me and grab a trash can as I threw up on the landing. I threw up so much that I was losing weight instead of gaining. My OB/GYN prescribed me two milkshakes a week to reverse the weight-loss trend. The sweet lady at the McDonald’s drive-through became my friend. I miss her.
“Hell no!” also suggests that I am done having babies. I had two planned C-sections so I can’t complain about the birth. I can complain that my son inhaled his meconium and was rushed to the NICU. I can complain that both of my kids had trouble nursing and I ended up supplementing so much (under the care of two different lactation consultants) that I gave up and switched to the bottle.
But I love my kids and wouldn’t trade them or the hardships of our early days for anything. I’m just ready to keep moving forward. I love experiencing every age with them. Right now they are six and nine and loads of fun. Another baby would take me away from them. Another baby might send me over a cliff. My husband is the one having baby lust. He keeps teasing me with the question, “Come on. Just one more?”
To that I must answer, “Hell no!”
Thank goodness spring is here. I’m putting that coat away for a long time.