I've hit the halfway marker in this prenatal marathon and I feel like I've received my second wind. Maybe this renewed momentum is aided by all the weight I've gained. After all, simple physics dictates that objects of greater mass hurtle through space faster. But so far, I can't complain. Ever since I've retired from Olympic Freestyle Vomiting, aside from the occasional backache after working out and the constant peeing, I've been remarkably free from any other discomforts like heartburn, swollen ankles or stretch marks so far. But before I get too smug or self-congratulatory, I remind myself that the gods of pregnancy are notoriously fickle. But after a first trimester from gastrointestinal hell, I certainly think I deserve a little respite. My little taekwondo champion is kicking up a storm and I can now see my belly twitch and throb with every vigorous jab and kick.
Since I've been pregnant, I can't help noticing a peculiar
personality trait that pregnancy brings out in people. I'm
talking about a bizarre compulsion for one-upmanship. Something
about parenting brings out the inner gladiator in all of us. We
all know how competitive parents can be about their little
darlings. Just hang out at a little league game or sit in the
stands during soccer Saturday and watch the rabid parents foaming
at the mouth and causing general mayhem. Everybody tsks tsks and
shakes their heads at the poor example being set for the children
and we wonder how we've come to this. I'll tell you how. Rewind
to the moment of conception and the madness starts there.
No matter what kind of pregnancy you're having, there's always somebody out there who's doing pregnancy far better or far worse than you. From the moment I learned I was pregnant and shared the news, the one-upmanship began. Once the congratulations were done, friends and acquaintances offered up their own tales of triumph or woe. Either they've struggled for years with infertility or they were using the pill AND a condom and still got pregnant because, golly gee, they're so super-fertile.
We had a friend who gloated that he and his wife got pregnant on their very first try. He even he pumped his arm up and down like a piston. He acted as if his wife's cervix was a basketball hoop and he had put in a slam dunk. Of course, he bragged about this in front of another friend battling infertility. My husband couldn't resist bursting his balloon and pointed out that we got pregnant without even trying. As you can see, this madness is highly contagious and before you know it, you find yourself reluctantly playing along, even if it's just to be provocative.
When I was suffering from my All-Day-Long Sickness, the reactions fell into two categories. The smug, "What, you're still sick?! I didn't have a single moment of queasiness! I was really healthy when I was pregnant." The implication being that those who suffer from morning sickness are not as healthy. Or, just as annoying, "You think you're sick? I vomited for nine months straight and lost 35 lbs! I had to be hospitalized five times for dehydration! You're lucky." Oddly, I didn't feel lucky. In fact, at the time, I wasn't at all sure that nine months of suffering weren't in store for me. But nevertheless, I felt chastised for daring to think that my scant suffering matched their own grand maternal martyrdom.
Although almost nobody has asked me how much weight I've gained, everybody else loves to weigh in with me. Either they gained a mere 10 pounds or they freakishly doubled their body weight. Doesn't anybody gain the recommended 25 to 35 pounds you read about in the pregnancy books? Or is staying within the guidelines too boring and ordinary? The weird thing is that men are particularly prone to this one-upmanship game regarding their wives' pregnancies -- as if they can take credit for anything beyond shaking their twig and berries. Usually, this bragging revolves around how good their wives looked during and after pregnancy. While other wives became fat and ugly and had to wear maternity clothes, their little honeys wore Prada and Gucci the entire nine months. Of course, the implication here is that their wives never got big enough to need maternity clothes. Yeah, right!
We have a friend who falls into this category, and before his wife went into labor, I predicted just how everything would go: She would labor for a mere 30 minutes before delivering without a single drop of pain medication or a drop of sweat. Of course, he called us with this exact story, with the addition that since the delivery was sooo easy, his daughter was easily the best-looking baby in the nursery. She had none of that unsightly distortion or pruniness, oh no, his baby looked like a Gerber baby from the very beginning.
I am convinced that pregnancy is the ultimate blood sport and
there's no room for sensitivity or humility if you want to win.
But what exactly do you win in the end? I mean there's no big
cash prize or medal ceremony at the end of an excruciatingly easy
or difficult pregnancy. So what is all the one-upmanship about?
Maybe it's valuable practice for all the future fights and riots
at Junior's soccer matches that would put any World Cup soccer
hooligan to shame. I don't know about you, but I plan on spending
the next four months on the sidelines because I'm simply not
interested in playing, no matter how many direct lobs are thrown