Rav’s Repro is a column in which Erin explores all topics related to reproduction and reproductive rights.
When I was pregnant with my son (14 years ago!), I was petrified. I didn’t know how I was going to do it — give birth, be responsible for another life, be a parent. And, the advice people gave me did little to assuage my fears. In fact, it turned the anxiety way up for me. Now, as I approach the third trimester of my pregnancy (that was really hard to come by), I’ve been reminded of those instances of unhelpful, albeit well-intentioned, advice. It has to stop.
I get it. People think they're helpful, sharing their experience. I give advice weekly; who am I to talk? But the thing is, why is so much of the advice given to pregnant people so negative?
“You’ll never sleep again.”
If you’ve been pregnant or the partner of a pregnant person, you have heard some variation of this. Perhaps you’ve been told, “Get all the sleep you can now,” or “Enjoy your sleep while you can.”
First of all, you will sleep again. I promise. Yes, it may be a bit of an adjustment, learning how to tackle sleep in increments rather than blocks, that first couple of months. But, you will survive. Being a lifelong insomniac probably helped me with this. I function fairly well on little sleep and have never had a great sleeping life. But, even if you are someone who relishes eight or more hours per night, you will adjust and learn how to take short rests.
Secondly, a lot of pregnant people are already not sleeping well. Why do you assume that pregnant bodies are relishing in hours of comfortable uninterrupted sleep? If you're pregnant and that’s you, CONGRATS! But, if you’re like me and many others — between finding a comfortable position for your back/belly/ general center of gravity, having to pee every 30 minutes because your baby is using your squished bladder as a pillow, and sometimes lying awake with the normal fears and anxieties that accompany pregnancy and childbirth (even if this is not your first rodeo) — your sleep quality may be real low already.
“Kiss your life goodbye.”
Have you heard this one? Or maybe, “Enjoy your freedom while you’ve got it" or “Say goodbye to having a life.” Is this some sadistic move on the part of other parents? They’re unhappy with the choices they’ve made and jealous that you're not right there with them yet?
Because I don’t get it.
When I had my son, my life completely changed — in the best possible ways. My life didn’t end, it began. I didn’t lose my identity; I made room for a new one. And in doing so, I became a far better, more interesting person than I was before.
When people say this to you, smile and then forget it. Know that you will feel like yourself again, know that you will be a better version of you, know that you will have sex again, have time for work and friendships again, and you won’t be losing a damn thing. On the contrary, you’ll be gaining so much.
“You’re huge. That’s going to be a big baby.”
This should be a no-brainer, but it’s not. I haven't heard this so much this time. But, I heard it a lot when I was pregnant before. Just, no. Don’t comment on the size of someone’s pregnant belly. Every pregnant belly is different. Some carry high, some carry low, some carry straight out front, some carry wide. You’re not a doctor. You don’t know the size of the baby inside and stop trying to freak people out about the size of the baby that is going to come out of them.
“Don’t you think you’re a little old/young to be having a baby?”
Recently online, in response to one of my Rav's Repro columns, a woman left an odd comment, actually a series of odd comments, basically indicating: I was too old to be having a child, my child would be embarrassed to have grey-haired parents, I would likely die soon and leave the child bereft.
I have so many things to say about this. Not that it matters, but: I don't have grey hair (and if I did, so what), my husband is seven years younger than me — so maybe our child will only be embarrassed by one of us, and we are all going to die (we don't know when or where).
Let's boil it down. Don’t ever comment on the age of someone who is choosing to have a child. Whether you think they are too young or too old, what are they supposed to do with that information? Furthermore, for people who have struggled with miscarriage or infertility, maybe when they got pregnant wasn’t entirely their choice.
The bottom line is this: When it comes to reproductive issues, stay out of my vagina, and I will stay out of yours.
“Are you sure you want to do this all over again?”
No, I’m totally not sure after five miscarriages, two rounds of IVF, and five embryo transfers. Hmm, maybe I should tap out.
Really? Really? Suppose someone was unsure, why would you bring that up when they are very pregnant?
I realize that sometimes words come out of our mouths before we think about what it is we are saying. But, take a minute when someone is going through a major life change — like pregnancy — and think about what you’re saying/commenting/advising. Is it necessary or helpful? If you’re unsure, it may be best just to be supportive and not chime in.
Hey, Erin! How’s your pregnancy going?
I am now 26 weeks pregnant. Overall, I am feeling pretty good (the sleep thing and the peeing ALL THE TIME thing notwithstanding). Last week, I had a minor scare. I was concerned that I was leaking amniotic fluid. Called my OB. The doctor on call had me head over to Labor & Delivery at the hospital to get checked. I was not leaking amniotic fluid. Yay! But, my blood pressure was slightly elevated. Boo!
So, they kept me there for some hours, sent me home with a jug to collect my urine for 24 hours, and instructions to monitor my blood pressure at home. I am happy to report that all tests came back a-okay. My blood pressure is fine. And there you have it.
Tomorrow, I go in for the standard glucose tolerance test. Fun! My third trimester starts in a week (OMG, this pregnancy is going by so quickly), and I’m looking forward to the (dwindling) weeks ahead. XOXO