Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Great Expectations; Victorian Sensibilities

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I have never been pregnant, as far as I know. Certain facts about pregnancy have nevertheless become clear to me, merely by observing what pregnant women (they’re all women, right?) experience. So for the benefit of you cloistered people – or those of you reading this blog back in prudish 1951 via some space-time-defying RSS feed – I offer an unequivocally inexhaustive treatment of that magical time (pregnancy, I mean, not 1951, as magical as it was, what with Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning home run and all).

One thing we get used to as non-pregnant people is a modicum of respect for personal space. It varies from context to context, but generally, people we do not know tend to keep their hands to themselves. Apparently, the protrusion of a pregnant belly gives some people reason to believe that said belly is somehow excepted from the personal space rule. They thus feel no compunction about extending a hand to feel that belly, regardless of the nerve endings in and around that belly very much belonging to the belly’s owner. Recommended reaction: pat the perpetrator’s belly and admire how much it’s grown.

So if some people never cultivated an ability to refrain from inappropriate physical contact with strangers (inappropriate physical contact with loved ones is even creepier, but not the subject here), it should not surprise us that many otherwise harmless individuals think nothing of posing intrusive, offensive questions or offering unsolicited, ignorant input, most notably the friend-of-a-friend-of-friend horror story: “I know this woman who slipped getting out of the shower and her belly hit the edge of the tub; they had to amputate the front of the body and the baby was born with two heads, and now she can’t function because when one head wants to sleep, the other one’s always awake.” Recommended response: amputate the front of the perpetrator’s body.

Chivalry has not died yet; enough caring souls still inhabit our society, and will offer their seats to obviously pregnant women in waiting rooms, on buses and trains. Some even go so far as to send an expectant mother to the front of the restroom line, but reasonable women do have their limits. But the days when a pregnant woman’s presence will automatically prompt someone to offer his or her seat have sadly faded. Recommended reaction to this lack of consideration: sit on someone’s lap. Please note that this might not achieve the desired result going forward with a certain half of the species, unless I don’t know you as well as I thought (I’d probably be quite comfortable in 1951).

Seldom has there been a more frustrating misnomer than “morning sickness.” Perhaps the term is a sadistic bit of synecdoche. Perhaps the coiners of the term were only at home with their wives in the morning. Either way, pregnant women have been known to experience nausea at the most inconvenient times, such as always.

Many women experience aversions to, or cravings for, specific foods. A man of our acquaintance was dispatched to the local diner with his pregnant wife’s clear instructions: get me a grilled chicken sandwich, and I NEED TO SEE the GRILL MARKS. Said husband relayed the order to the person behind the counter, who replied, “Wife pregnant?”

Other physical and social phenomena characterize pregnancy, of course. Many of them defy adequate treatment in this context, since I refuse to refer to anything suggesting certain aspects of female physiology in anything more direct than oblique metaphor.

OK, maybe 1835, not 1951. But there were no famous home runs in 1835. And I don’t mean that as an oblique metaphor.

Written by Thag

August 19, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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