Thursday, March 10, 2011

inadequately pregnant

If you’re a woman, you know all about the pressures society puts on women in various different ways. Pressures we put on ourselves. “You can have it all! Work, kids, a rockin’ body, a perfect mate, a steamy sex life, and perfect skin and hair and teeth.” It’s all over the covers of glossy magazines, commercials and shows on TV, and movies. Yes, a lot of it pushed by the media, but speaking for myself; I buy some of those magazines, and watch some of those shows and movies. So, I guess I'm not helping the situation.

When you get pregnant, you think you’d get a free pass on a few of these things, at least for 9 months or so. But alas, no. Yesterday, on my way walking through Grand Central Station, I stopped at a magazine stand as I hadn’t brought anything with me to read for my hour long train ride home. I scoured the racks and saw an issue of “Fit Pregnancy”. Ok, well, I’m not exactly what you’d call fit¸ but I AM pregnant, so, I bought it. I love magazines, so I was excited to have a brand new one to read on my commute home.

Once I reached the train and sat down, I looked at the cover. The things I could learn about in this issue were:

- 33 reasons to exercise now!
- Prenatal testing- who needs what and when
- How sex is better with a bump
- And then something about vegetables (don’t remember exactly)

So, I just started flipping through the magazine, because none of those “front cover” topics really jumped out at me. I came across an article about being sexy and healthy during pregnancy. Ok, cool! I’d like to be both of those things! Let’s see, what can I learn?

*First off, the picture of the article was a beautiful naked pregnant lady (all her bathing suit parts covered of course) laying on her side, looking all glowy and radiant and perfectly pregnant and just so very happy.

- Eat well: Well, I pretty much do that. I mean, I eat fruits and veggies every day. This article said I should try to eat a wide variety of them, but honestly I kind of stick to my favorites/what is easiest. And I try to eat plenty of protein and good dairy. (*guiltily throws away the Hershey’s Kiss wrapper on her desk from the candy she got from a co-worker, and tries not to think about the red velvet cupcake she had last night). Oh, but they made it SO easy for me, because they put all these gourmet healthy recipes in the back of the magazine. A sample week, if you will, so I don’t even have to think about it. How nice of them.

- Get plenty of exercise: Yeah, I’m sucking at this. I’ve officially exercised once since being pregnant. I’ve had plenty of days where I got a lot of walking in, but only one official exercise session. Honestly, I’m just tired all the time, and my back often hurts. Would exercise help this? Oh, I’m sure it would. I actually plan on writing a post about this tomorrow, so, stay tuned. But anyway. The article was like “oh, you’ll be so much healthier and so will your baby, and if you don’t exercise, you will be super unhealthy and so will your baby and you’ll ruin your baby’s life forever.” Ok, maybe it wasn’t THAT judgmental. I may be projecting a little.

- Then they talked about skin and hair care. They gave the usual spiel about how you can’t really prevent stretch marks with creams or oils; that they are genetic. Then they said something along the lines of how it wasn’t recommended that women dye their hair during pregnancy, especially not the first trimester. Um, this is contradictory to EVERYTHING I’ve read so far. Everything I’ve read said it’s fine to dye your hair, but if you want to be extra safe, don’t do it in the first trimester. But also; there is no evidence pointing to it affecting the baby at all. But when I read this; all black and white and glossy, it just made me feel horrible. Because I DID dye my hair a few weeks ago. I was planning on doing it at least one more time before I delivered. But now of course I feel like I can’t because of this dumb magazine and the happy, glowy, healthy naked lady in this article, pointing at me and silently judging me for Hershey’s Kisses and hair dye.

So, yes. Rational me knows I’m doing a good job. Every checkup says the babies are doing well; are on track. I haven’t gained much weight yet. So all seems to be fine. But I still can’t help but think of those little nagging things. “You should be exercising more! Eating more leafy greens! Not dyeing your hair you vain, selfish woman! Think of the babies! The tiny helpless babies are counting on you to not mess them up!” And then suddenly, it’s WORSE than usual. It’s worse than the everyday pressure a woman puts on herself; because now it’s not just about me, it’s about two other little lives that are completely depending on me. I know it won’t end after this because I’ll always worry about them, but right now it just feels like so much pressure. And you want to do everything right. And again; rational me knows I am doing well and doing my best. Rational me knows that every year they say that this new thing is bad, and this new thing is good, and who can keep up?

But even knowing all of that, I had to stop reading the magazine halfway through my trip. I was just feeling TOO crappy and just inadequate. It wasn’t inspiring me, it was overwhelming me. I know that “having/doing it all” isn’t really possible. There’s always something that has to give a little. I knew this even before becoming pregnant. But the message we get as women every day, pregnant or not, is that we SHOULD be doing it all: Work, kids, a rockin’ body, a perfect mate, a steamy sex life, and perfect skin and hair and teeth. So, what to do? Recycle that magazine, turn off that commercial, and do your best every day to just be as happy and healthy as possible, and hopefully the rest will fall into place.

That’s what I’m hoping for anyway. :)



  1. I bought one of those fit pregnancy magazines early in my pregnancy... And ..well.... Never bought another one again. I felt pretty much the same...already under so much pressure, didn't need to read more about it in my free time :) try not to stress and just enjoy this goes so fast!

  2. I admire everything you are doing for your babies, and I know it will be enough. And while this is not really the point, when I get stressed out about trying to make everything ideal it does help me to remember the following: my mother in law ate cheetos and coca-cola almost every day of her pregancy and somehow my husaband is incredibly healthy, intelligent, and well adjusted!