I’ve always been quite comfortable with who I am as a person. I like myself. I like other people (for the most part) and I’m very proud to be a woman.
When I accidentally on purpose became pregnant, my other half and I were over the moon. We had some wider family stuff going on at the time that necessitated keeping it quiet for the solid three months but we literally couldn’t wait to let people know that our awesome little family of two was going to get a new member of the gang. We were secretly high fiving each other all the time.
I love being pregnant. I’ve been lucky, it’s all been pretty smooth. As a disabled woman it was the physical aspects of being preggo that I worried about the most. So when my identity as a woman and a mother suddenly became public property it took me a little by surprise.
I remember when the advice started — I was about three months in and I had just told my mum. Within seconds of a rather cursory congratulations she said “I guess you’ll have to stop wearing tight clothing now.” I thought she meant because I wouldn’t be able to fit into them anymore; she meant that tight clothing was bad for the baby. Me and my other half had a bit of a giggle over it and thought nothing of it. Then I got bigger and the pregnancy became more obvious…
“Don’t eat honey, the baby will get botulism.”
“Get rid of the cats, they sleep on the heads of babies.”
“I guess you’ll be giving up work now then?”
“Uncross your legs, it cuts off blood flow to the placenta.”
“You won’t be able to dye you hair for a while.”
“We probably won’t be friends any more once you have the baby.”
Erm, what now!? Since when did becoming pregnant make it acceptable for one woman to dictate to another woman how they should and shouldn’t behave with their own bodies? After 30 years of being an intelligent woman who ran her own business, I suddenly developed a crisis of identity. Was I hurting my baby!?
I’ve got access to Google, I know how to find information, but women were suddenly crossing the street to approach and reproach me at the bus stop about the caffeine in my can of Coke. I thought the world had gone mad!
I guess my point in all of this is about how becoming a parent may change your function slightly as an adult in the wider world, but it doesn’t change who you are as a person. Well, it does, but only in that yummy holistic “I’m having a new experience” kind of way.
Starting a family is lush — with only a few weeks left I cannot wait to meet the mini person that will hopefully acquire all our positive traits and grow up to be someone truly exciting. I have been saddened by how some family and friends have reacted with such obvious dismay to the expansion of my identity and it took me a while to seperate their baggage from my own. Some people seem to feel that my pregnancy impacts how they define themselves as people.
Something about the pregnancy as public property thing seems to make it culturally acceptable to unload. But in all of this I remain as me — just a bit rounder and with a few extra responsibilities. I hope other women out there feel the same.