Lowered Expectations

When I was pregnant with my first, I obsessively read every book on pregnancy and childbirth I could get from the library.  I mostly focused on the more “medical” books, but I also read a far amount of the schlock, as well — probably because as an expectant single mom, I felt a desire to belong that was normally absent from my psyche.

I thought that the ‘What To Expect’ books were horribly condescending and really kind of crappy to anyone who wasn’t a white, hetero, married, non-poor, etc. etc. etc.  I honestly found the book that was written by Jimmy Iovine’s wife to be more helpful and less judgmental.  Because seriously — if ANYONE ever “gave me a look” when I ordered dessert at a restaurant while pregnant, I would be across that table so fast they wouldn’t remember anything but a blur of pregnant fury.

Bloody show, indeed.

My opinion hasn’t changed much and I really haven’t read any pregnancy books since then. And aside from Hip Mama and Mothering, I’ve found most pregnancy/parenting magazines to be utterly void of anything helpful or interesting.  Nor am I the type to hang out at pregnancy websites unless I am looking for a very specific answer to a very specific question.  I’d much rather troll around GFY or io9.  I mean, I get that most of the appeal is the excitement of being pregnant and wanting to share, but I sort of feel like I’ve already done enough research and am ready to just focus on practice.

So, I exist in a pregnancy bubble.  I’ve got everything I need baby-wise.  I have bins of diapers and clothes and I’m part of a circle of ladies that have been shuttling around an ever-growing heap of maternity clothes for about 6 years now.  A quick peek down my shirt assures me I can feed the baby.  As for the rest, I generally just hope that the mechanics of pregnancy and childbirth haven’t changed too much since the last one.

Anyhow, I had an unusually long wait to be seen at Dr. YoureHavingAGiantBaby’s office yesterday.  The tv was running some weird ad/show on repeat, I’d failed to find anything interesting to read via my blackberry, and my husband had quit responding to my text messages (probably because I was mainly just updating him on how many times I’d peed).  So, I picked up a copy of some parenting magazine.

Holy shitballs, y’all.

It was about 11% “interviews” with CelebrityMoms like the wife of that dude from Creed and 89% advertisements-that-looked-like-articles for crazyass crap like this:

Yes, those are holes over the boobs.  It’s like the opposite of pasties.  But WHY?  It’s advertised as a garment to ‘hide your unsightly belly while nursing.’  They should have spun it as a garment that will ham-fistedly advise your partner that sexy times are GO.

And really, most of the ad-ticles were for utterly unnecessary and perplexing things.  Or they were for books and products that would show you how to be a skinny pregnant bitch who is a tiger in the sack and wears 4 inch heels at all times and is confused for a model.  While all the “interviews” were with women whose jobs consist of being sexy, having gobs of money, and being utterly out of touch with the way that 99% of people live.

I mean, I GET IT.  We, the pregnant polloi, are not doing it right.

When you are pregnant — especially for the first time — it’s almost like puberty all over again.  You have to get to know your new body, your new gender/sexual identity, and your news feelings — both emotional and physical.  It’s a weird and disconcerting time.  Not to mention that around the bend is an entirely new source of fear and anxiety — parenthood.

And really, the LAST thing any woman needs on top of that is to be told that she “has to be” skinny/sexy/confident/energetic/happy/taut or else she will be embarrassed/ashamed/deficient/guilty/weak.  But yet that is the capitalism of American pregnancy, isn’t it?  There is only a handful of “right” ways to be pregnant, but don’t worry, we have an infinite supply of things you can buy to get there.

Seriously, fuck off already.

Expectant mothers, please feel free to be exactly and whatever the hell kind of pregnant person and new parent you want to be.

And if that involves wearing a the tank equivalent of crotchless panties, more power to you.



Filed under Babies: Making and Raising, Cultural Oddities, Getting to Know Me, Signs of the Apocalypse

8 responses to “Lowered Expectations

  1. Sandra

    “And really, the LAST thing any woman needs on top of that is to be told that she “has to be” skinny/sexy/confident/energetic/happy/taut or else she will be embarrassed/ashamed/deficient/guilty/weak. But yet that is the capitalism of American pregnancy, isn’t it? There is only a handful of “right” ways to be pregnant, but don’t worry, we have an infinite supply of things you can buy to get there.”

    As far as I can tell, that is the capitalism of American ANYTHING! And I rarely find a magazine that is anything more than a catalog of shit to buy to supposedly make you feel more kinny/sexy/confident/energetic/happy/taut, or whatever. Fuck off already, indeed!

    Thanks for the low down, Hussy!

  2. I share your loathing of crap Parenting magazines – we get them free at my house, they keep following me through several moves for some reason (probably all the diapers.com orders), and they are just a big giant ad. The jokes on the last page irritate me the most – they are so bad, but I guess they get published because those parents will think anything is funny as long as it talks about their Inability to Put on Anything but Yoga Pants Because My Life is so Crrrrrazy Now that I’m a Mommy, Haha!

    I am also very sad to inform you of what you may already know, and may not even care to know, but I feel compelled to report: that Ms. Iovine and Mr. Douchebag are no longer married bc he likes his wimmin young and not-poochy-in-the-belly-from-carrying-his-four-babies. I also loved her book the most of all my pre-baby books, and I feel weirdly protective over her after hearing about the big D.

  3. There’s much to admire, even love, here–but I have to give a special thumbs-up double-points bonus to “pregnant polloi,” as effective and efficient suggestion of gender and class identity as I’ve ever seen.

  4. Jenn

    Girlfriend’s guide was the only semi-helpful book for me as well and seriously be equally wary of “medical” reference materials (even textbooks!). The language in there is sometimes equally condescending and offensive although not as much in your face as the magazines and mainstream books. For example, menopause is seemingly innocuously termed “ovarian failure” as if our bodies are failing at what ought to be the chief duty of childbearing instead of going through a natural process of aging. Our pelvises are deemed “inadequate” because of the structure of our ischial spines. Women who have trouble conceiving are have their cervix labeled as “incompetent” or “hostile mucous conditions.” Infants are “delivered” by healthcare providers as if the mother was unnecessary for the process of labor and delivery. Meanwhile, terms like “barren”, “hostile”, and “inadequate” are typically not applied to male functioning. Sorry to sound a bit soap boxy but I quite ragey when I think about the contents of the majority of print related to women.
    Love your blog and it gives me hope to know there are women like you and your commenters around these parts of the country. Thanks for making me think.

  5. I thought “What to Expect While Your Wife is Expanding” was an excellent resource for my husband. He actually needs to reread it. The gist of it is “remember this is your fault, so go buy her potato chips and ice cream and STFU.” Other than that, pregnancy books are rubbish. I figure if I’m taking my prenatal vitamin, not taking any of the no-no over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, and not snorting coke/downing a fifth of Jack, I’m totally winning when it comes to gestation.

  6. Warren Moon

    I heartily approve of the lack of improper usage of “hoi” in front of polloi. I have seen myriad instances of incorrect usage. And while I cannot always be an intelectual gazelle, I still mainthain that there is more than a schism between us and hoi polloi, there is a tangible and precipitous drop intelectual rigor.

  7. JJ

    This was my favorite phrase: “Holy shitballs, y’all.”
    I want t-shirts! — boobless or otherwise, in pregnant expansion sizes and not.

  8. Che

    I have a whole collection of crunchy pregnancy books from doula class that I have failed to read. Maybe someday. I also have a nursing book I was required to buy before I decided not to certify as a doula. Lame.

    Crotchless panties sound kinda hot actually. That shirt, not so much.

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