Actually, what’s been on my mind of late is the preoccupation of my body by the world at large (or so it seems).
Daily emails remind me to do my kegels to help with delivery, maintain my pelvic floor and ensure not only urine retention later on, but some pretty great sex to boot. I’m told not to lift Eryn while I pray or risk having the baby at the mosque. Targeted advertisements on Google and Facebook remind me that I too can get my pre-pregnancy body back in the first six weeks after baby arrives. Am I eating enough? Eat well, but stay away from Sushi, cold cuts, hot dogs, feta, brie, coffee, tea, chocolate, pop, rare steak, poached eggs, and salad bars. Strangers balk at my size and can’t believe I’m due next week (or tomorrow… who knows!) — surely I have at least another month to go… where AM I hiding this baby?
And at this very moment, my dear Hubby just reminded me to sit on my exercise ball instead of slouching on the couch. As much as I really want to balance my fifth peanut butter cookie on my belly while I write, I know he’s only thinking of my inevitable groin pain the second I stand up.
Policing. Preoccupation. Heaven forbid I indulge in a little veggie sushi (or a California roll made with Tilapia-based-fake-crab), drink a large tea, not fit into my bikini by beach season, or birth a petite baby. Because getting caught doing any of these things means I’m just not good enough. Right? Why else bombard me with pictures and stories of women who are “doing it right?” It’s just a little healthy competition. Right?
People love the preoccupation with baby weight. The heavier the better (but not TOO heavy). Heavy means healthy. We proclaim the baby’s weight with the first announcement: Name, Time of Birth, Weight, Mom and Baby are doing fine. So I learned quickly that telling people I was carrying a small baby gained me more raised eyebrows than anticipated.
So today while venting about all of these issues, my mom reminded me of her own birth.
She was born at 28 weeks and weighed only three pounds. Northern Germany in 1944 didn’t have neonatal intensive care units — so she went home after seven days. Her parents lined a leather shopping bag with some bedding and kept her behind their coal burning stove just to keep her warm. For food they gave her cows milk mixed with sugar and corn starch. She was so tiny that whenever they hid in the bomb shelter, people thought her mother was hiding a kitten in her bag.
And she turned out just fine.