When I heard that Kim Kardashian West would have her third child carried via surrogate, my immediate 35 week pregnant reaction was to DM my husband the news and tell him we did it wrong.
Clearly, as a very average person, this was not an option but before the legions attack Kimmy let’s be super clear here: being pregnant lowkey sucks. There. I said it.
In a pop culture world where mommy-dom is almost a novelty and every facet is monetized, nitpicked and Instagrammed––what, with the scenic farms in white lace robes and flower crowns at 9 months pregnant and whatnot–– it is not exactly PC to be anything less than ecstatic about turning into what my sister affectionately calls an Easy Bake Oven for a human child. I fall into that category. I don’t love being pregnant.
1. Your body is not your own. Everything from the things you usually eat and drink to the lotions you apply to the types of shoes you wear are hyper-scrutinized, sometimes even by a well-meaning partner who doesn’t want his kid to pop out with caffeine jitters (hi Mike). It’s not the obvious stuff either. Sushi, fine. Booze, I get it. But cheese?! And turkey sandwiches?! AND cookie dough?! Y’all are crazy.
How I Deal: Take all the advice doled out to you with a huge grain of salt unless there is a legit medical reason for it. My mom doesn’t think I should I wear heels. But when I feel like an oil tanker, those floral heels I bought for no reason pre-baby make me feel like myself again. And frankly a glass of wine didn’t do anything to me pre-baby, so I think I’ll be okay as long as it doesn’t end in a bender.
2. You’re supposed to be this bubble of happiness bursting with life-giving powers…but also an invalid. Our tadpole would have a college fund if I had a penny for every time someone asked me “how I’m feeling.” I feel fine, yes, it’s hot in here, yes I’m drinking a Coke and yes, I’ll be at the meeting with the client tomorrow while growing a human baby. I get the intentions, but no one cared when I had the flu last year for a week. Same symptoms, people!
How I Deal: The wisest thing my mom told me from the jump was that I’m not sick…I’m pregnant. Sure, I’ll take a seat on the subway if offered, but we’re supposed to be more than the sum of our parts, right? I’m not shy about asking for help, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that no one should make you feel like you’re less capable. Ever. If anything, we’re multi-tasking like crazy right now and should get an award!
3. Vanity kind of goes out the window. At first I was like, “I’m going to workout until the day he’s born. And who says I’ll be too tired to blow dry my hair?!” Then reality set in. I can’t bend over my legs to shave properly. And because my center of gravity is that of a small elephant right now, weird gymnastics poses are out of the question.
How To Deal: F*ck it! There are other ways I’d rather spend my time than lamenting how cute I was pre-pregnancy. Like napping. Or watching The Sopranos end to end. To be fair, my husband is the sweetest and lies about how cute I am now despite it all. And I have been mindful of what I eat because I always have been––so I’m about 25 lbs. above my pre-pregnancy weight and fortunate that swelling hasn’t been too much of an issue. No judgement to my homies who may have had a different experience.
Which brings me to the hardest part of this whole thing––the scariest part about being pregnant.
4. The never-ending scrutiny that comes with being a mom. The second I happily subscribed to this whole thing, picturing Mike, baby and myself loving on each other forever, I also signed up for motherhood–which comes with lots of other mothers, of all shapes, sizes, anxieties and needs. What I didn’t know is that the culture of motherhood has become one of fierce competition that makes even the most well-adjusted person question their sanity. From birth plans to breastfeeding to nanny or daycare to career vs. family, everything becomes trial by jury and frankly, when you’re working so hard to stay healthy for baby, this seems counterproductive.
Rewind to month 5 of this journey when I was having some baby-related health scares, I’m scrolling through Instagram freaking out because in the same day, a college friend announced how she wouldn’t be returning to work to be a “full time mommy.” Another, due around the same time as me, posted a bump pic saying she’s never felt more beautiful with her mountain belly protruding out while mine was still a mole hill. That night, I woke up at 3 a.m. researching whether the bassinet we got would kill our baby. Then, I find out about a super cool project at work that naturally launches smack in the middle of my maternity leave. At first I was mad at them. Then I was mad at me for falling into the trap.
How I Deal: Perspective! Pregnancy is magic. But it’s also something I have in common with beluga whales and giraffes and Kim Kardashian. By that I mean: it’s not new. Babies have been born for a LONG time. This holier than thou, pregnant lady Hunger Games we play is the dark side of being overly connected and exposed on every corner of the mommy internet. Ladies, when did this become a competition? It’s tough to bask in the glory of creating a human when there’s this subculture of one-upmanship that unlocks the second your egg gets poached. I doubt 18th century moms were like “Did you notice she drank caffeinated tea with unpasteurized milk in the parlor earlier?”
I applaud Kim for admitting pregnancy was not exactly the walk in the park for her as it seems to be for say, a Beyoncé. Or even her sister Kourtney, one of the internet’s favorite moms.
Grateful as I am to have had no issues conceiving and carrying my cuddly little parasite, I too would have to admit being pregnant is not on my top 10 things I love. Does it have the ultimate payoff of creating a life with the person I love the most in this world? Absolutely. Will I do it again? For sure. I want 4 kids. Is it easy to wrap my head around the 160 weeks of my life that will entail? Not really. So much power to my comrades who live for this stage. And massive shout-out to my adoptive, foster, and IVF moms. But for those of you who struggle with the process, you’re fine. More than that, you’re actually kind of normal.