Thursday, 19 March 2015

33 Weeks' Pregnant - Watergate, This Time it's Personal

Pregnancy brings with it a myriad of question marks. From your first midwife appointment to the last (I presume) the enquiries just keep on coming - and they keep on getting more personal. The first question my midwife ever asked me was
"Where do you plan on having your baby?"
Goodness I thought - I am going to at some point 'have' the baby. I didn't think of that. After a few moments I answered "In a hospital?"
"Yes dear, but which one?"
Ah, this was going to be more difficult than I first thought.

She continued with some quite normal questions such as when my last period was (a little personal), had I given up alcohol, did I have a partner, had I had any bleeding (not necessarily in that order). And then some more slightly startling questions such as was my partner also White Caucasian and was there any domestic violence in my relationship. Two questions I have never ever been asked before. Particularly hard to answer when you are someone like me who feels an intense need to 'jest' in awkward situations. Many of these questions are impossible to answer with a joke. The most recent question she asked me was could I come to an appointment early on January the 2nd. I immediately quipped that I probably could as my hangover from New Years would have worn off. This was met with a stern look and a mini lecture about drinking in pregnancy. My midwife is not what you call a 'barrel of laughs' - but then I wouldn't be in her position.

She asked me how much I weighed early on in the pregnancy and I answered that I didn't know as 'ignorance is bliss' - again, no laugh. Tough crowd. From then on it was did we want to know the baby's gender? Did I want the flu jab? Did I want the Whooping Cough jab? Did I want to hear the heartbeat? etc. Soon I assume I will be asked what pain relief I want and if I would like to push - but I would rather not think about that right now.

Questions from medical professionals are expected and are not to be offended by I suppose. But the curious thing about pregnancy are the questions from friends and family - and indeed strangers. A question I find incredibly inappropriate is "Were you trying?"
"Were you trying?" Translates (let's be honest) to "Were you having unprotected sex around the clock?" or "Did you carelessly have sex without any protection which, quite frankly young lady, you should know better than to do at your age" with the caveat being "Is your baby an accident/mistake?"

"Was it planned?" comes under the same sub-text title as above. You are basically asking me how I had sex. I was in a taxi a few weeks back where the driver took an overly eager interest in my state. He asked if it was a boy or girl, when the due date was, what my partner did, was I married (alright Dad - anything else? Would you like to know what his intentions are too?) He ended his barrage of questions with "Was it planned?"
"No" I said honestly. Honesty was always my downfall.
"Ah well," he said, shaking his head "You need to use protection!"
Really? Really? Are we really having this conversation? Do you think this is appropriate? We literally met three minutes ago. The meter is only at £4.20.

My partner has taken to asking me about my bowel movements. And worse, I have started to answer. He will also ask about my breasts and the word 'discharge' has come up in more than one conversation. My friends have asked me about wind and sickness and if I am doing my pelvic floors etc. On-line mums ask each other which sexual position is the best when grappling with a mighty large bump and how their privates shape up after squeezing a watermelon out of them.

Last week my cousin came over with her husband to celebrate Christmas. The four of us sat there in the glow of festive mulled wine and Cinnamon candles, the Christmas tree twinkling away, four of us eating Stolen and three of us supping red wine. We giggled about our private jokes and the past year and she asked me with a kind smile "Have you wee-ed yourself during pregnancy?"

Without thinking this was anything out of the ordinary I launched into a detailed story. The story was a true one - something that had happened about a month earlier. My partner and I were in bed lazily talking about things of little consequence, he had made me laugh unexpectedly and before I knew it, I had wet myself, a little, unexpectedly. Embarrassing? Yes. But honest, and I hoped, a natural consequence of pregnancy. I chuckled and looked up at my guests.

My cousin smiled a very thin, disingenuous smile. The type of smile you would offer a Psychopath as you very slowly backed away. Her husband looked the same. Sort of half amused, half confused, with a sprinkling of awkwardness. I looked from them to my partner who was stood staring at me with a face of utter disdain and bewilderment. I didn't understand. My story was funny - I thought - and she had asked me!  It might have been a tad personal, but we were all family and I thought I would at least get a laugh out of it.

It was at that point that her husband very delicately cleared his throat and quietly offered "She asked if you had 'weighed' yourself during pregnancy".


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