The world of mothers

I was nervous about this business trip to Seattle. In everyday life, I don’t encounter too many people, so the awkward uncomfortable pregnancy comments are kept to a minimum. I’m in control. Sometimes I let people think I’m plump; other times I tell the grocery store cashier that I’m pregnant as we chat like southern people do.

But here, here people know me. And they know me – knew me – as Just Me. Not a vessel for a miracle, incubator for a creature, or through my relationship with anyone but themselves.  We work together, and while we tend to know a bit about each other’s lives, our interactions are defined by our roles and responsibilities.

Would they treat me differently? Would I be Pregnant Me instead of Kick-ass Me or Competent Me or Manager Me? I dreaded being treated with kid gloves because I’m pregnant. And ew, people might touch me or ask me icky personal questions.

So I dreaded it, but it was awesome. Awesome!

Walking by the office of a software architect I knew as an acquaintance, I heard, “Hey, Marisa?” She called me in to ask if the rumors were true, if I was “expecting.”  When I confirmed it and gave her the lowdown on how I was feeling (“Well, not bad anymore and getting better”), she shared a few stories, both good and bad.  When I told her I felt like my body was being taken over by aliens, she couldn’t relate — she had felt like her body was finally doing what it was supposed to — but she understood.  I left feeling really connected.

Another coworker took me to lunch to tell me a few things, among them, “Don’t freak out if you don’t feel all gushy and lovey right away. It may take time, but it’ll happen. Just don’t freak out, okay? It happens and it’s okay.”  Bless her, she was right, I would have freaked out.

The administrative assistant I’d never met before couldn’t help but show me pictures of her son (adorable) and ask how I was feeling. My staff was fun (as usual), but we couldn’t help but tell kid stories when things got quiet. And even the men got in on it, telling stories about their kids over drinks at dinner.

Then last night I went to dinner with a good friend and came back to my hotel feeling full – emotionally and physically. Too much French food and too little time, but I could put my weirdness about being pregnant into actual words: Pregnant Me, in taking over Normal Me, left me feeling like a vessel more than a person.  Suddenly people might feel it okay to touch “the baby” despite my preferences about being touched (ahem, he’s inside ME).  Suddenly the world at large has opinions about what I do and don’t do.  Suddenly I was more or less than Me, in ways I didn’t like, and I wasn’t sure how that would change how other people related to me. Suddenly I was already losing touch with the person I was while being replaced by this new person, this mother-of-someone-else. Already I’m feeling like I’m not who I was.

Thank goodness, as with other transitions, fantasticness abounds, here in the sudden entrance I’ve been granted into the world of mothers.

It was a very good trip, both professionally and emotionally.  I’m ready to go home, but I’m so glad I came.

{P.S. The only real “thing” I noted about how people reacted to me was really mind-blowing: three different times, I got leered at by men on the street, each time while wearing clothes that made it clear I’m pregnant. What the @#$? That just seems biologically wrong, for a man to be attracted to a woman carrying someone else’s baby, no?}


5 thoughts on “The world of mothers

  1. The leering? Perhaps it’s biologically right because they obviously know you CAN bear children. I didn’t feel like just a vessel that much during pregnancy but I’ll throw in a post-baby tidbit. Sometimes I really dislike breastfeeding (2 1/2 months into it). I feel more like my body isn’t my own because of it. That seems weird since your body TOTALLY isn’t your own during pregnancy but maybe that was more ok because the baby couldn’t survive without me then but could now. Or you don’t really have a choice while pregnant but you can always choose formula when feeding. I don’t know. And I did feel a bond with the baby right away and was actually surprised. I’m still not sure Hubby feels one, though. I’m glad your trip went well. It’s awesome if you have a group of honest, non-judgy/preaching women to talk about these things with.

  2. holy SNIT!!!!!! I’ve totally freakin noticed this!!! I have two theroys, boobs triumph over belly and/or they’re just really excited because they know were easy (patch Adams reference) and they can’t knock us up

  3. not to say my husband would ever leer at a strange woman, but he’s admitted that he finds pregnant women incredibly hot, so maybe it’s a common thing? i think cjm is right – it signals some primitive search for a fertile mate.

  4. I second cjm about breastfeeding. That was the most emotional part of the whole pregnancy/baby thing for me (although part of that was I’d had a breast reduction surgery, which affected my ability to nurse for the worse). And I absolutely felt cow-like when it came to pumping. I never really made peace with that.

    You put your finger right on it about being welcomed into the world of mothers. I think one day I was telling someone about my labor and delivery and was like, “Whoa! This is something I know about because I did it.” I dunno; just really struck me. Similarly, I’ve been amazed at the number of people in the grocery store who approach me to chat. It’s like having paparazzi or something.

  5. When I was about 7 months pregnant with baby #3 (who, incidentally, emerged from the womb weighing just under 11 lbs. so from week 20 on there was nothing cute or attractive about my pregnant self) my husband’s boss touched my butt. On purpose. It was foul. I was so gobsmacked that it took me a minute to process that yes, that man touched my ass on purpose!. He’s a lecherous fart as it is but I was shocked and angry (husband has been warned that if the boss touches me again, he’ll get a kick to the nuts).

    As for breastfeeding, the best piece of advice I can give you is to have a friend (or friends) who are supportive of your choice who you trust to vent to. Had I not had that with baby #2, we wouldn’t have successfully breastfed for long at all. But! I had a friend I could call and say I HATE THIS AND IT SUCKS! who would talk me down and the baby weaned herself at 14 months. So- lots of support, educate yourself, know that even though it’s natural it’s not always easy and that pediatricians are often full of bullshit because it’s a damn sight more convenient for them if your baby is on formula.

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