Thursday, October 3, 2013

20 weeks: an open letter to my pregnant friend

Cake is not the enemy
Hurrah! You did it! You are twenty weeks pregnant! 

Congratulations on reaching this important milestone on your first ride on the pregnancy roller coaster. You have just ricocheted out of the loopy and bendy bits of the ride and embarked upon the long, steep climb before the sheer vertical drop. 

Having suffered through the early stages of pregnancy, you are now qualified to experience the joys of the midway juncture: finding out whether your watermelon is a blue or a pink one, fighting with the elderly to get the priority seat on the packed morning commuter train, agonising over what nursery accessories to order on eBay.

You are also about to unceremoniously pop, much like a piece of microwave popcorn. You might also start to swell, puff, huff, stretch, sweat and take on a new skin tone - think reds, pinks and splotches - and be forced to stop shaving your legs and clipping your toenails. Choice. 

As your belly continues to increase, so too will the level of unsolicited pregnancy advice you receive. From your friends, from your mother, from your colleagues, and from complete strangers (and yes, you will want to strangle them, and yes, that is normal). 
A pastiche of meddlers will tell you to wear compression stockings, avoid bean sprouts, take a babymoon, give up on fashion and buy mumu dresses, and cut out dried fruit before your gestational diabetes test. Nod, shrug, tell them to shut up and sod off, stick the proverbial where the sun don't shine, then waddle off on your own and eat some cake. 

Before the unsolicited onslaught begins, I would like to offer five little snippets of advice of my own, then step aside and encourage you to choose your own adventure (although I fear you may already know how the ending will play out!)

Regardless of whether you choose to be the captain of a tight ship with an even tighter birth plan, or a pirate with a platoon of chocolate biscuits and a tattered treasure map, I will support both your method and your madness. 

Considering it's already on the table, let's start with cake. During the second half of your pregnancy there will be lots of cake.  Or biscuits, or sour cream, or hot dogs, or blocks of cheese, or hamburgers, or sour gummy worms, or bagels, or a whole family sized bag of random cravings. 

When you are staring down the barrel of yet another block of dark chocolate with sea salt, and you feel conflicted (hello little voices) please don't be too hard on yourself. Much like shells gain crabs and cream carpets gain red wine, pregnant women gain weight. 

Try as you might, you will not stay thin, you will not be happy with how you look, and you will never be content with the amount of weight you did (or perhaps, unusually, did not) put on during your ten month stint as a pregnant lady. So provided you keep a modicum of perspective and self-control, give in to some of the cravings and eat yourself to a little bit of happiness. 
To accommodate the growing baby, and the growing consumption of cake, your body will be forced to expand. Sometimes this expansion will be proportional, and sometimes it will preference particular sections of your anatomy. Regardless of expansion type, you will expand around the middle, leaving your beloved reg grundies rather too tight for comfort.

To avoid standing in the checkout queue at the supermarket with a pair of cheap cotton undies wedged between your bum cheeks, or spending most of your work day mentally trying to stop your underwear sliding down your leg, please go out this weekend and invest in a new and larger set of underwear. 

Pregnant tantrums happen. They are much like regular tantrums, but with added fuel and excess sugar. Despite being a professional woman with thirty-odd years of life experience and lessons safely in the makeup bag, the odds are high that you will succumb to the pregnant tantrum.

Your tantrum could be about anything, and it could strike at any moment. The only thing for certain is that your tantrum will be entirely irrational and illogical, but only in hindsight. The tantrum will rattle your partner - and possibly the neighbours, sorry about that - before suddenly dissipating into the atmosphere and leaving you demanding more cake. 

Accept it. Eat some cake. Eat the rest of the cake. Move on. 

So this is the state of play - you are twenty weeks pregnant, you have a reasonable bump on your front which makes things a bit weird in the bedroom, and you are so shattered from making a cup of tea and doing the laundry that you would like to curl up with your pregnancy pillow and just watch reruns of Dawsons Creek until the baby shows up. 

Sure, sounds reasonable enough, but I assure you - now is the time to have sex.  You have not yet endured labour, you have not yet acquired a sleepless baby and you have not (quite) become Violet Beauregarde and been rolled to the juicing room. There is an acutely limited window of opportunity right in front of you, which will slam shut and not be pried open again for quite some time. 

You have been warned.

Over the coming weeks, which will pass in a blur yet take an entire lifetime all at once, you will move from being a bit pregnant to being totally, painfully, awkwardly, unmistakeably, completely, pregnant. 

When you finish work on a Friday night, you will want to go home and hibernate instead of going to the pub. You will laugh at those people who invite you out to dinner at 9pm, and curse at the (same) people who invite you out to dinner at restaurants that have stairs or serve seafood or have noisy concrete walls.

You will start to derive a strange joy from washing and folding bassinet linen and stockpiling impossibly tiny socks. No doubt, you will be ropeable
when your husband goes to the cricket for the weekend and leaves you on the couch with a promising kick boxer in your stomach, ice packs on your swollen feet and an unopened flat pack cot. 

You will mostly enjoy flumping in solitude, and napping before dinner, and wearing nothing but pajamas from Friday night until Monday morning. Sometimes though, you will get lonely, and feel like the pregnant lady that time and your friends forgot. When this happens, just pick up the phone and call me. Any time of day, any time of night - I'm always here, and I'll probably be awake breastfeeding anyway.

M x 

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