Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Delicate Condition

Picture this: Pregnant lady walking. And walking. And walking. Occasionally finding a shoe section in a department store because they have places to sit. Walking some more. Sitting down to eat really, really delicious food. Walking and standing some more. Standing. Walking. Being offered a seat on the train. Then walking. And standing. And walking. Seeing incredible things. Fending off incredible crowds. For 10 days. And then, coming across a display of massage chairs that a person can try out for free. Sinking into one of the chairs. Reaching for the 'on' button. A man approaches. "Please. No. You have a baby." Translation: You're not allowed to have a vibrating chair because you're pregnant. Because vibrations would...what? Be different than riding a bus? Relieve some aches and pains? Out of all of the people in the incredible crowds, there were few who would have benefited more from a massage chair. (Most notably the 85 year old men toting 50 lb. bags of rice all over the place.)

In my first pregnancy I asked my OB how I would know if my bath water was too hot, because I'd seen the warning for pregnant ladies on every hot tub in the country. He looked at me sort of funny and said, "If it burns you?" I then asked about the hot tub warnings. "Oh those," he said, "They're afraid you might pass out if you get too hot." Solution: get out if you're feeling dizzy or light headed. Now, I may be wrong, but it seems like that would be good advice for anybody. There is legitimate risk to the baby if you raise your body temperature above 102 degrees during the 6-8 weeks of pregnancy. It seems like overkill (if not plain old mean) to forbid all achy third trimester pregnant bodies from warm water because they shouldn't have gotten in really hot water several months ago.

Kevin and I, while in Hong Kong, took a hot air balloon ride to see the view of the city from the air. As we were buying the tickets Kevin read on a sign that pregnant women were not allowed to fly. Having experience with people base-lessly disallowing pregnant women from anything fun or delicious I bought the ticket anyway. The lady noticed my protruding belly only after I was heading to the balloon. "Excuse me. Please be careful with your baby," she said. And now let me describe the great peril into which I put my baby by taking this hot air balloon ride. I got into a fully fenced basket. Like, fully fenced. I couldn't have climbed out of it were I a monkey. Then the balloon went straight up, remaining tethered to the ground the entire time, to a height of less than the high rises. We stayed up for 15 minutes, and then came straight down. Perhaps I'm a terrible person putting my unborn child at risk like that, but it seemed to me that baby was at more risk, say, while I was sitting comfortably on a couch somewhere.

The list of things a pregnant woman is discouraged from or plain out not allowed to do is much longer than the list of things that have actually been shown to be dangerous. Much, much longer. And as a person who has spent the last 5 years (not to mention several in the future) either pregnant or toting children along, or both, it is...frustrating. Even more than that, though, I'd venture to say that it's dangerous. At least for me. I have come to a point that when I see warning signs for pregnant women I think, "Stop making up things I can't do." Probably occasionally there is actual danger. But how is a person to know when? I'm even more likely to ignore or outright rebel against advice from kindhearted citizens who cross my path. And so, kindhearted citizens, three bits of information about pregnant women to help guide your advice:

1. If the load we are carrying weighs less than our children then, whether or not we should be carrying it, we do all the time. Feel free to take it off our hands, but telling us not to carry it isn't that helpful.

2. We can't button our coats up, no matter what the weather is like.

3. If it's about food...give us just a little bit of slack, please. We're doing the best we can. And really, is our risk of salmonella any more than yours? We are aware that there is a list approximately 34 pages (single spaced) long of things we're not allowed to eat. We also suspect that pregnant women in Japan eat sushi, and pregnant women in France eat cheese. And although we are hungry more often, plates with twice as much food will not fit into our stomach's drastically reduced allotted space.

All right then. I'm going to go find some hot, vibrating water and eat something delicious while I lie in it.

P.S. I realize that some pregnancies are complicated and there are more things that women experiencing them shouldn't do. I commend such women for being willing to give up things in order to get their babies here safely.

P.P.S. Kevin's working on a new album of Hong Kong pictures. It'll be here soon.


Blogger Kristi said...

I love this. The idea that somebody would actually scold you for not buttoning up your coat is hilarious, although I'm sure it must have been frustrating when you were experiencing it. I certainly don't have a coat that buttons over my belly in those last months. Here's hoping you enjoy the remaining months of your liberated pregnancy.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Friend said...

Terrific post. I can assure you that pregnant women DO eat cheese, although there one must stay clear of lettuce and strawberries. Sigh! Can't wait to see pictures of Hong Kong!

7:45 PM  
Anonymous stomach pains after eating said...

Thank you for this post (and everything else you share with us). Love your blog! Please, write some more!

9:31 AM  

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