I was weighing myself because I’m pregnant and it was Monday. I lead a very exciting life, I know.
Brian: “I wonder when you’ll weigh as much as me?”
Me: “What? I’ll never weigh as much as you. You’re always going to be fatter than me. Always.”
Brian: “Oh yeah? Let’s see then.”
I write down my new weight for this week. On average, I’ve been gaining about 2 pounds a week for a while now.
Brian then weighed himself. To my horror, it was only about 3 pounds heavier.
Me: “I don’t think so! You didn’t eat enough for dinner! Here, have this muffin.”
Brian: “See?! Only about another week and a half and we’ll be the same!”
Me: “Hang on, let me pee and I’ll weigh myself again. I probably have a few pounds of pee in here.”
Brian: “But now you know how I feel!”
Me: “Please, Brian, tell me how it feels to be you. Because this is so the same.’
Brian: “…it feels awesome?”
Me: “Yes. My swollen hands and feet feel awesome. So does your baby’s head pushing on my cervix. Do you know what that feels like?”
Brian: “…the opposite of awesome?”
Me: “Now get in the kitchen and go eat some muffins. But make sure to save me one. Or ten.”
Fast forward to last night – another Monday night weigh-in.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s happened. Brian and I now weigh the same.
He did an odd sort of happy dance. I got into a sumo stance, pushed him over, and sat on him.
It felt awesome.
Hey, this is Brian.
Yup, the husband-of-a-pregnant-blogger-Melissa Brian.
I’m here to school all the partners of pregnant ladies so that they get through the experience relatively unscathed.
Can you believe Melissa actually let me on here to write my very own post?
Yeah, neither can I…because this is Melissa, and I am writing this from Brian’s point of view with his general oversight and mild approval. Learn from these tales, my friends.
I decided to wait to eat breakfast on this lovely Sunday morning, opting for brunch instead. Of course, Melissa wolfed down two bowls of cereal and about ten lemon poppyseed muffins before I even got out of bed, so I figured she’d be good for a while.
I walk into the room with my beautifully prepared brunch and I see that she’s on her computer. I sit down next to her. She looks up expectantly. “What’s that?”
I paused, realizing my mistake too late. Could I still get away? Maybe I could pretend that I didn’t hear her.
I faced my fate head-on: “Uh…it’s a sandwich. Made with this delicious bagel, pesto, lettuce…and from diseased deli meat and unpasteurized cheese.”
At Melissa’s rageful silence, I got up and backed away slowly, and once I was a safe distance away, I threw another muffin at her for good measure.
The Hangry Plan
Pregnant ladies have gold medals in being hangry, so Melissa and I have learned to try and plan for the worst when we go out shopping or to run some errands. We bring water and snacks, and we also conjure up contingency plans, especially since she’ll be less able to run and defend herself in the event of a zombie apocalypse breaking out mid-outing.
For this particular outing, I wanted to go clothes shopping, and I gave Melissa the option of staying home, but she insisted on getting out of the apartment.
Melissa: “If I get hangry, just drop me at Cinnabon.”
Me: “You mean when you get hangry.”
Me: “And we may have to think of somewhere else, because they went out of business.”
Wide-eyed, panicked Melissa: “What?!”
Me, making sure I was more than an arm’s length away: “Ha, just kidding. You totally believed me!”
Melissa: “You are dead to me.”
The Sperm Whale
We’re at the doctor’s office, and Melissa has some fetal heart monitors strapped to her belly to check some things out. Everything was awesome, and when they took the monitors off, they had made two round impressions on her very pregnant belly.
As Melissa was getting dressed, I giggled.
Me: “Nothing, it’s just that you reminded me of a sperm whale.”
Melissa, her tone of voice flat-lining: “…a whatnow?”
Me, as I point to her belly: “You know, the sperm whale surfaces and the squid has been attacking it, and you can see where the squid’s suction cups were stuck to the whale.”
Melissa: “And that makes me a sperm whale?”
Me: “…a small, cute one!”
Melissa: “You know what else sperm whales can do?”
And without waiting for an answer, she sat on me.
The Jungle Cat
It’s 6 in the morning, and Melissa got up with me because she couldn’t sleep, so she was naturally hungry again.
But also because she loves me madly and couldn’t bear to miss seeing me off to work. As you recall from previous blog posts, it’s my responsibility to feed the meowing, howling cat at this time of day.
After spending a few minutes in the bathroom doing disgusting boy things, I entered the kitchen and threw some kibble in the cat’s bowl. The howling stopped, replaced by sounds of frantic gulping as she turned all of her attention to her food bowl. I looked up and realized that my cat and pregnant wife mirrored each other – each were hunched over their food in intense focus, like jungle cats tearing their fresh prey apart. Melissa even had on adorable cheetah print skivvies.
Foolishly, I reached over and patted Melissa’s bum. “You’re like a cheetah!” I told her. And then I growled for good measure.
Melissa looked up from her peanut butter and jelly topped onion bagel. “Huh?!” she said with her mouth full.
I pointed at her underwear and growled again.
She looked down and then quickly looked back up. “Yeah, I can’t see what underwear I am wearing from this angle. Thanks.”
“Well…it looks fabulous!”
And then I threw another muffin and ran away.
Unsolicited advice really doesn’t help.
In fact, it’s always made me feel worse.
A lot of people refer to my job as a professional advice-giver, which really misses the mark. I’ve often had clients come in and expect direct advice – they’ve even asked me straight up what I think they should do. I get that with some cultures, this is the expectation of coming to see an expert. Others just desperately want “the answers” (whatever those are), they want a quick solution, and they are afraid or not ready to put in the work to get there on their own.
I always pull back and slow down when a client asks me for advice. Sometimes I’ll ask why they are wanting to be told what to do, because often their answer reveals a lot about their world view.
And then I lay it right out for them. I explain that, while I’ve gone through training and I am qualified to help, I don’t know all the answers. And I certainly don’t know what’s best for one particular person from Adam. Sure, I have my own opinions, but I see clients for typically only one hour per week, and each client is really the expert on their life – they know better than anyone what may help and what won’t. Most importantly, a client has to live with whatever consequences their decisions bring, and that’s why they should be making these decisions – not me. My job is simply to help them make that decision, whatever it is.
And all that is just for advice that was actually invited.
I got onto this topic because 1) It’s one of my biggest pet peeves ever, and 2) Being pregnant seems to invite unsolicited advice, like a lot, and 3) I revisited a comment I made on a similar post, Tolerating Sadness:
I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I do hesitate to post sadder things on Facebook, mostly because I don’t want unsolicited advice or the other unwanted phrases I mentioned in the post. I don’t want to feel judged, dismissed when my sadness makes people uncomfortable. What a shame.
Number 1 is just me, and I tend to not like to be told what to do, unless I am specifically asking for help.
Number 2 is, in my opinion, an example of the (horrible) concept that a woman’s body and sexuality is everyone’s business and is to be regulated. Do we ask men how their erectile dysfunction is going today? No. Do we inquire about the state of their prostate? No. Do we give random advice about how to get their sperm count up? I seriously doubt it. I could be wrong about this, since I am not a man, but I do know that women’s bodies are more regulated than men’s due to the fact that men have no trouble getting Viagra and penis pumps covered by their insurance, while women have trouble getting birth control and access to safe abortions without unnecessary ultrasounds in some states. But I digress – this could be a whole other string of ranty posts.
Pregnancy, once a woman starts showing, is also a very obvious, visible condition, and I think this contributes to women getting unsolicited advice from strangers, not to mention getting their personal space violated. (By the way, always ask a pregnant lady if you can touch her belly BEFORE you touch it. And if she says no, then don’t. Please.)
Back to the advice-giving. It all boils down to the fact that advice serves to help the advice giver, not the recipient. I’ve found that when I am expressing some aspect of my life and feelings that is less than optimal, (sadness, frustration, fear, some icky pregnancy side effect, etc.) that sometimes creates feelings of discomfort in the listener. One way people try to alleviate that discomfort is to give advice as a means of maybe fixing the problem, or at the very least, feeling like they’ve helped and thus the uncomfortable-feelings-burden has been passed back to me.
Let me be clear. When I am expressing discomfort, it is not my intention to pass a burden onto the listener to fix my problem. If you feel discomfort while listening to me, please know that means that you care, you’re tuned into me, and that’s awesome. Seriously. But please, don’t take on my discomfort as your own. It’s not yours to carry. And it hurts my feelings when you try to deflect the discomfort with advice. My feelings are not yours to fix.
What I would like instead is empathy. I know you already feel it for me, hence the advice-giving. So, instead of covering up empathy with advice, try to give a voice to it.
I’m so sorry you had to go through that.
My heart aches for you.
I wish I could make your pain go away.
Let me know if there’s anything I can do.
These sound wonderful to me. They are vulnerable. They keep the two people on the same plane, as equals, as opposed to one who is suffering and one who gives advice as an expert. I think they are harder to say than advice is.
I’d much rather have someone come join me in empathy than try to slap a bandaid on my feelings.
So please, I invite you to pause the next time you feel the urge to give someone advice. Why do you feel like giving it? How are you feeling in relation to this person’s news/problems? What would it be like to refrain from trying to fix, and instead try to feel?
It might feel uncomfortable, and that’s ok.
Because my feelings (and yours) are not to be fixed.
Brian and I often chat online while he’s at work and I am at home eating muffins. He likes to check in on me to make sure I know just how much he loves me more than he loves designing planes (which is marginally, but I’ll take it).
Last week, he begins his daily chat with this:
B – Dude. I’m a genius. I have something for your blog.
Now, usually Brian rolls his eyes when I declare this is going on the blog! so, at hearing this, my interest was definitely piqued.
Me – What?
B- Check your email.
I checked my email, starting reading, and began laughing to the point of crying.
Me- Did you write this?!
B- Yes. I’m so proud of myself right now.
He had written very special alternative lyrics to the song Happy by Pharrell Williams. Before I get any more specific, allow me to back up and give some background. Most of you know I enjoy a good poop
joke. Jamie Lee Curtis really doesn’t lie – when your colon feels good, you feel good. It’s really that simple.
Now, my colon has a history of having a rough time (or not having one, as the case may be). Yet another parallel between my cancer experience and this pregnancy is that constipation has been an ongoing challenge, and that’s putting it very delicately. I’ve been working with my doctor and trying various remedies, and we may have found a regimen that doesn’t leave me feeling miserable every day. On Mothers Day, of all days, I was given the best gift ever – an empty colon. I was singing in the bathroom when I heard Brian sing back.
Me- Sing that again! What was that?
B- …because happiness is a poop!
Me- You’re so right. Sometimes happiness is a poop!
And unbeknownst to me, this idea grew in Brian’s head, and instead of designing planes, he rewrote the lyrics of Happy to describe a particular brand of happiness.
In B’s words, it is something for pregnant women to sing when they’re constipated.
He gets me so well.
So please, play the video whilst following along with the new lyrics. We hope you find it as amusing as we did.
Crapping by Pharrell Williams and Brian
I’m calling to Brian from the other room as I struggle to research items to put on our baby registry. I’ve found an interesting link that I clicked on.
Me: Hey Brian! Have you ever heard of a push present?!
B (yelling from the other room): A PUSH PRISON?!
Me: Ha, close, but no. A push present.
B: yeah, no.
Me: See, people feel the need to create arbitrary obligations for people to buy others presents for any reason whatsoever. Supposedly, you’re supposed to buy me something in exchange for pushing your kid out of my vag.
B: Uh, I am?
Me: Yeah, and I clicked on this link to see what the customary gifts are. (I show him the link and it’s cheap watches and jewelry)
B: (making a smarmy face) Ooooh, wow, hey. Here, trophy wife, is a gold watch for pushing a tiny creature out of your vagina. Thanks!
Me: No, a trophy wife can’t have your baby, because if her body is ruined, she’s no longer a trophy.
B: But that’s what mistresses are for.
Me: I think we’ve lost sight of the point of this conversation.
I’m feeling all the feelings, you guys.
I had a mommy friend ask me if I wanted advice. She had written a list of things she wished she had known before giving birth. I said yes, and I read it.
Then I cried.
This thing really has to come out of me. And it’s going to hurt. Like, a lot. Breastfeeding might be hard. And painful. Projectile poop really does exist. All this responsibility…
Even though I’m the type of person who always wants to know all the good and the bad stuff, it was still pretty overwhelming.
I asked myself, how am I going to handle all this?
That voice inside me shrugged and said, one day at a time.
I’m also having some feelings around body image.
My body hasn’t changed much throughout my life, with the exception of cancer and the resulting surgery. This week marks the highest weight I have ever been. I knew it was coming, of course, and I know it’s healthy and it’s supposed to happen. And I’m cool with it; it means that Little Duck is growing and my body is growing with fe. At the same time, I felt a pang when I saw the number on the scale. I’ve never been one to weigh myself, like ever, because I’ve never seen the point. But with the pregnancy, I’ve wanted to track my changes and so I’ve been weighing myself once a week.
It’s not just the number on the scale, but a combination of that plus how I look and how I feel. I’ve always been fairly petite, and sometimes it’s tough for me to see my waistline disappear. Honestly, it depends on the day. When I first started showing, I was so happy and excited. This is real! Look at me, how cute I look! I feel so special! And sometimes, a lot of the time, I still feel like that. But on the days when I feel achy and bloated, I wonder how big I’m going to get. Where is my limit? What will my body do? It’s the not knowing that can be unsettling.
What I’ve concluded is that my body is changing faster than my thoughts and emotions can catch up. And I have to keep telling myself what I already know to be true – that my body knows what it’s doing. Trust it.
Even when cancer invaded my body and I felt like it [my body] had betrayed me, it still let me know what was going on. And when I stop to think about my progress during this pregnancy so far, I realize that my body has done all the work unaided. All the medical procedures I’ve had have been purely for screening purposes. Of course, if my body needs medical help along the way, that’s all well and good, but overall, my body’s in charge. And she knows what she’s doing.
Lastly, I’ve been feeling all pent up. I really need a project (besides growing life) and what I’d really like to be doing is decorating and organizing a house, but we’re just not there yet. Not only are we not there, but we’re crammed into a one bedroom apartment with boxes stacked everywhere. I feel closed in, it feels cluttered in here, and I have no idea how we’re going to fit a baby in here, let alone all the baby crap.
I know this situation is only temporary, and our next move, if it’s not a house, will definitely be someplace bigger and quieter. We’ll only have to have the baby here for one month max, if at all.
It also doesn’t help that I am not currently working, or otherwise have something to do with my time. I’ve been looking for work half-assedly, mostly because, while I do want to be productive and useful, I don’t want the added stress of having to learn a new job, and I certainly don’t want to have to sell my soul to any job – and that’s even if anyone offers this 5 month pregnant lady a position in the first place.
I hate how the American work force – and the social service professions specifically – expect you to bend over backwords just to work. The job openings I’ve seen aren’t only full time, but the descriptions are peppered with lines like: must be able to work evenings and Saturdays, shifts subject to change with little notice, must be able to drive to multiple locations, may be exposed to clients with violent tendencies, must give up first born child to Satan, etc. I’d be hesitant to take jobs like this even if I wasn’t pregnant, and forget it now. I’m not even sure I’d want to keep a full time job after I have the baby, anyway, so that adds to my lack of enthusiasm. Don’t employers want healthy, happy, well-rounded workers who have lives outside of work? Sheesh. Jobs are just jobs, and I want one that I don’t have to be married to.
That said, I do feel incredibly fortunate that I am being supported by my husband right now. I have the privilege of having the choice to work or not, and for that I am very thankful. I also feel a bit guilty about not contributing financially to the household, and a part of me really does want to get out there and do the profession I love, but Brian totally understands my priorities and he’s supportive. I’ll keep looking for work, and if I find something that fits our needs, then awesome. If not, we’ll adjust and get by together.
So. It seems as though my theme for the moment is transition.
But, now that I think about it, am I ever really not transitioning?
You know what?
I’m in love with you, you little goober.
In a fellow mommy blogger’s post, she once mentioned that she could characterize each of her children’s behavior in utero using one word.
I think your word is playful.
Sometimes you want to play when I want to sleep.
Sometimes, when I get up to pee at night and probably wake you up, you give me a little tap, tap just to say hi.
The other day, you were tap dancing on my cervix, probably because you thought it was funny. It was not. Ouch.
It’s gotten to the point where your little drumstick limbs are strong enough that most of your kicks and punches can be seen from the outside. This means that your uterine cage fighting often upstages the TV, which is pretty impressive. I mean, the other day I was minding my own business, trying to watch
Derek Hough’s abs Dancing With The Stars, and I actually paused the TV several times just to stare at my belly. It was amazing. YOU are amazing. You already make me feel guilty for doing cardio while I am stuffing my face with Cherry Garcia. Jerk.
Today, for reasons unknown, you scrunched your entire self over into the right side of my uterus. Why?! Why would you do such a thing? Was it on a dare? Because I don’t see how that could be comfortable in the slightest; it certainly wasn’t for me. It looked like my belly was made of clay and that I had fallen down on my left side, causing the clay to squish in on the left and out at a freakishly bulbous angle on the right. It took several jabs from me to get your cute little baby ass to move back into a more respectable position. If you were playing sardines, I hope you won, cuz bravo, Little Duck, bravo. After you’ve broken out and I can’t find you, I’ll remember to look in compact spaces.
Be warned that my abdominal area is prime real estate. Later on today the cat requested napping space adjacent to your ever-expanding lofted apartment, and things must have gotten a little tense. I guess I’m going to have to teach you to share a little sooner than I thought, because you ended up kicking the cat several times in the face. Bless my furry love child, for she either didn’t notice, or didn’t care enough to give up the comfort that is my lap. I kinda wanted her to notice, though, because that shit was hilarious. I hope this is an indication that you two will become fast friends who occasionally breakdance fight each other.
I’m so excited, Little Duck. I can’t wait to meet you, for reals.
I can’t wait to see what kind of person you become, and what kind of parent you make me be.
But so far, I know that you have a wicked sense of humor, which is good. You’re going to need it.
I’m generally pretty moody in the morning.
And by moody, I mean that it can really go either way – I can be the sweetest sparkle cuddle-monster, or I can be a murderous bloodthirsty jungle panther. And so far, pregnancy has only widened the gap between these two extremes.
What causes the pendulum to swing, you ask?
Sometimes it’s the direction of the wind, like Mary Poppins’ menstrual cycle. Other times it’s if the planets are in alignment or if our pantry is sufficiently stocked with poptarts.
Brian gets up for work considerably earlier than I do, considering the work I do now – creating life – I’m so freaking good at, I can do it in my sleep, thankyouverymuch. He has two alarms: one quiet, melodic one and one so loud and jarring that it wakes the dead. I’ve grown to hate them both.
Since moving to Oregon and living under Stompasaurus Sex, I’ve taken to wearing earplugs while I sleep. Sleep is very, very important to me. I love sleep, and it usually loves me…except when one (or both) of the dreamwreckers named Stompasaurus and Pregnancy get in the way.
So, having said all this, every night is a crapshoot concerning how well I’ll sleep and whether I’ll end up awake when Brian gets up for work in the morning. And even then, if I end up awake, there is no telling what mood I’ll be in.
Picture the scene from this morning: Both of Brian’s alarms had gone off. The second one had successfully summoned several demons from the depths of Hell, and as a result, I was awake. Because I was awake, I had to go pee. Naturally. I got up slowly and made sure I had my bearings, partly because it was still dark, partly because my center of gravity is constantly changing and I am in danger of tipping over even when I am sitting down, and partly because I was wearing earplugs and can’t hear danger. I was also wearing this really cute zebra print onesie that I can barely still fit into, and the night before I had pranced around saying I was a pregnant zebra and made fierce growling noises.
“You know zebras don’t growl,” Brian had commented when I demanded he pay attention to me.
“Have you ever seen a pregnant zebra?! I’m sure they have plenty to growl about, if they feel anything like I do. RAWR!” Was my reply.
Back to the morning.
Brian, ever the survivalist, says he never expects me to be friendly in the morning, just to be safe. “So I’m always wary when you come near me,” he explained, “Like I’m being approached by a wild animal, and I’m the human with poor night vision.”
So I shuffle back from the bathroom, and decide to help get Brian out of bed, lest he fall asleep again, miss work, and is unable to support his wife and unborn baby zebra. I decide that the best way to do this is to hit him on the head. Once he got up, I lunged closer to him, and he froze. I went in for a warm, cuddly wordless hug that only a deaf, half-asleep, pregnant zebra can give, and then fell back into bed exhausted.
Brian backed away slowly and shut the door behind him, having survived another morning.