This post was written by our wonderful contributor, Katelyn!
“Being Pregnant SUCKS!”
“Yes, it is absolutely the worst!”
Sometimes I find myself in the midst of a pregnancy-hating conversation. It’s not too hard to find myself in one as I regularly associate with women who are mothers and often with women who are pregnant, so it’s bound to come up. And talking about pregnancies and childbirth is just one of those fascinating things to talk about with other women, because the truth is, all women experience it differently. And some have some pretty awesome stories to share (I once had a friend who did deliver a baby in the car on the way to the hospital and another who’s husband delivered their baby by himself in their home!).
I love hearing everyone’s stories of pregnancy and birth. From the moment they found out they were pregnant, to the comments they received from strangers, to odd things their OBs did or said. And then all the different birth stories, from beautiful, quick deliveries, to difficult or frightening emergencies. All of it is thrilling, humbling, and sometimes downright miraculous.
The Pregnancy Debate of “Who Had It Worse”
However, during these conversations, there is a high chance that the discussion will lead to the great pregnancy battle of “who had it worse.” While the conversation doesn’t necessarily go this route intentionally, it just happens. Sometimes the stories aren’t even about individuals in the room, but their neighbor, cousin, mother, or friend who had a crazy pregnancy story or birth.
And while I have some definite things to boast of in this debate (like carrying twins to almost 38 weeks!), this is one pregnancy comparison game which I usually stand to lose, and I want to lose it.
Because I am one of those lucky “unicorn” women who have relatively easy pregnancies. I never throw up, ever, during my pregnancies. I’m one of those fortunate women who doesn’t have to pee every 15 minutes, who sleep through the night all nine months, who carry their babies like a cute basketball (or mini torpedo) stuck under their shirts, who don’t go into preterm labor, who has never been on bed rest (yes, even with my twin pregnancy), who hasn’t had gestational diabetes or high blood pressure, or wobbled hopelessly like a duck. My C-section was also planned and I was well prepared for it. My vaginal delivery went off without any complications.
However, I am not extremely comfortable during my pregnancy, don’t always feel great, experience some food aversion, am much more tired than usual, get out breath quickly, gain quite a bit of weight, have a huge baby bump, feel great pressure on my legs and crotch, and hate wearing clothes by the end because my stomach is stretched so tautly it hurts. So, though I may now have several stretch marks on my stomach and my butt, a 2+ finger’s width diastis recti, varicose veins, a C-section scar, and a saggy, wrinkly stomach courtesy of my pregnancies, I will never win these “bad pregnancy competitions” by and large.
Because, generally, I enjoy being pregnant.
While a few categories I can usually win, like the longest labor (38 hours), furthest past my due date (13 days), number of babies carried at once (2), amount of weight gained (50+ lbs), and the biggest baby (babies) delivered (9lbs 8oz singleton; 6lbs 14 oz and 6lbs 15oz twins – so almost 14lbs of baby at once), I feel sheepish many times to bring such things up!
How can I complain (or brag) when friend “Beth” had hospital bed rest for two long months, threw up all day long, every day, and still delivered a preterm baby in an emergency C-section? And even though I have had miscarriages (which are awful), they were early (7 weeks gestation or earlier) and again, compared to others who have lost children further in their pregnancies, had a stillborn, or lost a child post-birth, how can I complain? How can I really?
I don’t want to make others feel even worse about their experiences. And I certainly don’t want to come off as insensitive to those who suffered.
Truthfully, I never really know what to say during these pregnancy conversations, because I tend to feel like the odd woman out.
I don’t want people to be jealous of my experiences, and I don’t want to be jealous of theirs! Because there are certainly women who have even better pregnancies than me, who don’t even know they are pregnant until they deliver a healthy baby in the hospital. Or women who have quick, pain-free deliveries, and do it all in the comfort of their home. There are women who gain very little weight, show very little bump, who do kickboxing up until the day before they deliver, and spring back to pre-pregnancy weight almost instantly. There are women who don’t actually get stretch marks or heartburn or hemorrhoids.
The thing about pregnancies is they are as unique and personal as every woman is uniquely she. No two journeys from conception to delivery are going to be exactly the same, even for the same woman!
And that’s why I don’t want to compete in pregnancy competitions. It’s silly, pointless, and potentially damaging.
Instead I choose to empathize, relate, listen, and acknowledge. Another’s pregnancy journey, whether good or bad, is real and uniquely theirs.
While I don’t love hearing women complain endlessly about being pregnant or over-dramatizing things for the sake of conversation, I allow them some grace. And I hope everyone allows me some grace as I share some good things I experience when I am pregnant in comparison. Because, to me, it’s not a competition we’re having at all. It’s a conversation about one of the most amazing journeys we’ve ever been on in our lives, a unique tale, that is all ours, and one that we should feel privileged to share among friends.
How do you feel about women sharing their easy pregnancy stories? What about their hard ones?