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Monday, October 19, 2015

4 Things To Expect When You're Expecting

This is a post that I had been meaning to blog about since all the way back in the first trimester. Now that I'm in the third trimester (31 weeks and 2 days), I have collected more "personal experiences" to share with you on what to expect when you're expecting.



Before you start wondering if I'm going to share about the signs and symptoms of being pregnant, let me just say that no this isn't going to be a medical, informational post because I don't want to bore you with all the details that you can easily google, or get from a book like, 'What to Expect When You're Expecting'.

Instead, frankly, this is more of a rant post. And while I rant I hope that it gives you mamas-to-be a heads up of what to expect (so that when the time comes, you won't be caught off-guard or become too upset), and for fellow expecting mamas, to let you know that you're not alone, and fingers crossed, that people will become more considerate of their words and behaviour towards pregnant mamas from now on.

So, let the rant begin.


4 Things to Expect When You're Expecting:

1. Your Belly Becomes a Public Property

And everyone is going to touch your belly. EVERYONE. 

Expect that from your family members, extended family members, close friends, not-so-close friends and even strangers. Expect lots of touching, rubbing, and even poking. Expect them.

This was something that was forewarned to me by my mama friends when I first announced that I was pregnant. "Everyone is going to start touching your belly...", I was told. So I braced myself and was already expecting it. But no matter how prepared I was mentally, when it happens physically, it's still always an awkward experience.

I'm generally quite okay with the belly-touching thing cos I understand that people are excited at the thought of my pregnancy and they're just sharing our happiness. Maybe they don't have many preggers friends/family members in their lives. Maybe they're just curious as to how a pregnant belly feels like. Maybe they're just hoping they could "feel" the baby. And maybe they just want to feel like they're a part of our pregnancy.

It's all okay for me cos it makes me happy when I see that they're all so excited for us, and I'm generally okay with the belly-touching:

1) When they bother to ask for my permission before touching my belly

I know even if I didn't like it, it's hard for me to say no in their faces, but AT LEAST they asked? At least there's some form of regard and respect for my body, because my belly (tho it protrudes out) is STILL a part of my body? And everybody's body is private? Somehow people forget that when they approach a pregnant lady.

2) When they just gently pat my belly

It's still awkward, but at least it's not full on rubbing/massaging. One or two gentle pats are fine.


However, it becomes awkward and NOT okay:

1) When they caress and molest my whole belly

Haha sounds dramatic right? Trust me, it happens to me. People literally stand beside me and rub/caress/molest my belly all around while they chat with me/others. And it makes me feel....like an exhibit. And violated.

2) When they poke my belly

I don't know what to say about this. I feel like laughing at the thought of it, cos it's just funny how people start behaving when they see a pregnant belly. But the truth is it's far from funny. It's weird. It's disrespectful. And it's very very uncomfortable for me!!! Especially if they ter-poke into my belly button!!! *arghhh*

3) When a MALE touches my belly

This is the ultimate. I understand that there are excited males around me who share our joy and adore babies, but for them to just touch my belly (usually without asking for permission) just makes me feel...extremely violated? I usually try to be all cool about it on the outside because I'm not the type that likes to make a scene, but on the inside I'll usually be like, "Okay WTH just happened??". From what I read on forums and articles, most western mamas would not hesitate to pull away, say no, or make a scene when that happens. But for me, you know me. I'm not that type and I hate making people feel uncomfortable. So I would usually just suck it up, appear all cool, maintain a smile and later rant to Boon lol.


Confession: I, myself used to be guilty of this belly-touching too. I used to be very, very excited upon seeing my preggers mama friends and their growing bellies, and I would very naturally reach out to gently touch their bellies. They were always very nice and smiley so I thought there was nothing wrong, but I now believe that they're really just being nice. I repented and stopped doing it altogether when I read from an article shared by some friends on FB that preggers actually hate that. Then I started imagining if it happened to me in the future when I'm pregnant and shuddered at the thought to it, and really stopped it since. 

So if you're reading this and remembered that you are one of the many people who have touched my belly/other pregnant women's bellies, don't feel too bad. I realised that it's very common and usually people don't realise that until they're told. So now that you're aware of it, you know better what to do! :)


2. People Don't Say Hi To You Anymore

They say hi to your belly. People literally fix their gaze at my belly while walking towards me, and continue to look at it while saying and waving hi to my belly.

My momma friends tell me it's just gonna get worse. From now on people will only say hi to your baby and only talk to your baby, while you're just standing there carrying your baby, feeling invisible.


3. People Become Baby Experts

Suddenly, the people around you become baby experts! You might think that I'm referring to aunties or mothers only, but you'll be surprised that most of the people who act like baby experts are young, single, non-married, and non-mothers who have never even been pregnant before.

These baby experts will suddenly surface upon your pregnancy announcement, and act as if they know every freaking thing about your pregnancy. 

These are the exact scenarios that happened to me:


Scenario 1: The Gender-Tellers

*stares at my belly, analyses*

"Wah your belly is so round, must be a girl! Girls are normally rounder and boys sharper wan!"

"Wah your belly is so round, must be a boy la! Boys rounder and girls sharper wan ma!" 

"I think your one really boy la. I just know it."

"Your one confirm girl la. No need to say."


I'll usually respond with a smile and go like, "Oh really? Hahah I have no idea". Because it's true. I have no idea yet, and I'm not a baby expert or gender-teller/prophetess so I wouldn't know. And neither are you so just stop embarrassing yourselves already please. In my heart I'm like, "GO. AWAY."

You might think I'm being ultra sensitive, but when you get that so much, you'll be fed up like me too no matter how patient and nice you are.


Scenario 2: The Bump Size Experts

*stares at my belly, analyses*

"Huh? You're already 5 months? Why still so small wan!"

"Wah where's your baby? Cannot see anything also! Are you sure you're 5 months?"
(Nope, you're more sure than me. Nah, give you a cookie)

"Wow your belly is too small for a 5-month. You diet is it?"

"Are you even pregnant??"
(Nope, I'm lying! I'm lying to everybody about my pregnancy! You're so smart to spot it! Don't expose my secret ok!)


I have a friend who's a few days apart pregnant, and we get compared to each other a lot. She's much taller than me hence, when she's pregnant her bump is bigger than mine, while I'm a petite so naturally my bump will be smaller.

People comment that hers was wayyy too big for a 5 months pregnancy, while mine was too small for a 5 months bump. Seriously missy, what is the IDEAL and RIGHT bump size for a 5-month? Give me the exact measurements to the inches since you're so damn sure.

I know being the smaller sized one, I receive less hasher comments as compared to my taller friend as people would tell her in her face to stop snacking, eat less, exercise more, etc etc which is super rude. 

While I should probably be feeling thankful that I don't receive such insensitive comments, all these questions and doubts that people throw at me for being small did make me feel like there was something wrong with me. I was okay initially cos I reassured myself that as long as my gynae says my baby's growth is good and healthy, I have nothing to worry about. But I got these "concerned comments" so often that I began to doubt. I started to wonder if my baby was indeed too small at 5 months, if my baby was not receiving enough nutrients from me, and if there was anything wrong with my baby. All these thoughts worried me and I started to doubt myself as a good mom. Maybe it's because of me that my baby isn't really growing that quickly, since everyone is making a big deal that my baby is wayyyy too small for his age.

It got so bad that I started to hate going out to see people, especially people who always like to touch my belly and go on and on about my bump size and predicting my baby's gender, etc etc etc. I literally dreaded talking to people cos I would have to layan all their nonsense and be nice. In an ideal world, I can probably ask them to just shut it. But unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world. Nobody wants to be labelled as a hormonal pregnant witch, so what we all usually do is just suck it up, smile and be nice.

At one point I couldn't take it, I cried and cried out of insecurity, frustration and anger. It just reached my limit. Boon hugged me and reassured me that I'm healthy, baby's healthy, and that we should shut everyone's comment out because they're just being nosy and wanting to have a say. It became too much to bear. So many unnecessary comments from everyone, everywhere. After that crying session, I felt much better and learned how to better shut everyone out and not let them get to me, for the sake of my happiness and sanity.

I know many people make such comments without bad intentions, or the desire to put anyone down. But do know that firstly, it already isn't easy being pregnant. It's really difficult to be pregnant physical, mentally and emotionally. On top of that, we have these pregnant hormones that mess with us whether or not we like it. We have no control. And to have these insensitive comments thrown at us just makes it that much harder to bear. So the next time you think you know what you're saying to a pregnant lady, think again on how it might make her feel and how silly you might potentially sound. No harm keeping your judgments to yourselves, really. No harm at all.


4. Body-Shaming Becomes Acceptable

The society is becoming more and more aware that we should not judge ladies by their body sizes, and that every size is beautiful. Body-shaming is becoming increasingly frowned upon, and people are starting to be nicer and more careful with their words, and be less judgmental.

Unfortunately, the same isn't applied to pregnant ladies. When I became pregnant, people started to think they could make comments about how I look, judge me by my body size, by my weight, by how much I've grown/gained.

These are the exact comments I received:

*stares at my belly, analyses*

"Wah your bump hor, grow sideways wan hor?"

"OMG what happened to your face? Why you look so swollen wan? Water retention is it?"

"Wah can see ah. You rounder now ah."

"How much weight have you gained so far? Wah close to 10kg? Ohh..."

"Wah you become chubby already!"

"Must control...if not next time very hard to lose weight!"

"You're having a boy? Oh you know they say that pregnant ladies who carry boys tend to look uglier wan?"

"Stop eating so much already!"


A friend of mine was told randomly by a fellow woman/mom acquaintance:

"It's okay...mommy not pretty baby will still be pretty wan."

Wow. You have no idea how that passing comment crushed my friend's self image.

Tell me how we're supposed to respond to such comments? Tell me how we're supposed to feel about them?

On one hand, my doctor is asking me to eat and feed my baby well, which results in weight gain and size growth especially because I don't get to exercise anymore (aside from my weekly prenatal yoga). Plus, water retention is a bitch. My whole body has grown "bigger" as a whole because of it. What can I do about all of these? Nothing.

On another hand, these comments made me feel like I'm indeed growing out of control. They made me more aware of the fat areas when I look myself in the mirror, when I'm supposed to look into the mirror and admire my pregnant body, my bump, the curves and all the flaws that come with it. It made me feel like I was utterly unattractive, fat, swelled up, and ugly. It brought my positive image of my pregnant body that I was excited to see growing, down to feeling extremely self-conscious. My self-esteem was badly affected because of it.

It does not help when the media is giving credit and praise to women who gain less than 10kgs throughout pregnancy, and still looking unrealistically slim and glowing. When you get people around you saying stuff like, "OMG look at this celebrity/this friend of mine! Pregnant also still so slim and pretty!!". I've already gained more than 10kgs and I'm only in Week 31. I've already failed the glam preggers mom test. I'm doomed.

I know of preggers who struggle with break outs on their faces and swollen features like eyes and nose while pregnant. I, who only struggle with water retention and weight gain am already getting all of these insensitive remarks thrown at me, I can only imagine what the poor moms who suffer more than me have to deal with.

Nobody wants to be a fat, ugly, unattractive pregnant mom. If you looked good while pregnant, good for you. If you know friends who look perfect while pregnant, great for them! But don't compare. Every pregnancy is different, every woman is different, and every individual is different.

Plus, we know very well how we look like. We look into the mirror everyday too, just like you. We feel every weight gain because it's becoming increasingly difficult to walk up the stairs, we feel every size growth because what used to look good on us no longer does. We don't need you to notify us of your discovery, really. Just keep your comments to yourself.

-

I've become much better at handling these comments and behaviours now, but if I had blogged about it few months ago, it would have sounded very much like this post on my Dayre that I posted up when I was extremely mad (yea I'm very much more transparent on Dayre).

I wanted to blog about this months ago, and when I told one of my sisters about my intention to do so, she said, "What if people distant themselves from you because they think they might accidentally offend you?". I thought about it and yeah it's true, it might happen. So I decided not to blog about it.

Every now and then I still think about whether or not I should go ahead and just do it, because I feel that it's good and healthy for more people to be aware of these things. If everyone keeps quiet about it, then we cannot blame people for (intentionally/unintentionally) making hurtful comments at us. I wouldn't have known about how pregnant mothers/mothers feel about things I hadn't heard from my momma friends or read about them from honest articles.

So yes, I've done it. This post is now live. And I feel good about my decision to post it up. I do hope that this post will shed some light on the things that many so take for granted, and hopefully lesser pregnant women will suffer from these inconsiderate comments and actions from now on.

Remember, if you don't know what to say to a someone (pregnant or not), just don't say anything. It's really the wiser thing to do.

Okay, rant over.


love, Careen.
This post is filed under PersonalPregnancy.

3 comments:

  1. Slap those fellas. At the end of the day, you're growing a life and that's a big, noble sacrifice. Be strong mama!

    ReplyDelete

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