There are many complicated things about baby-making and baby-having. It's a pretty consuming ride, from the point that you decide you want to have a baby allllllll the way through to the day that you finally have said baby, sometimes with months and years and tears and worries and adoption and other things all leading up to that one great day, when, AT LAST: BABY.
That's why stories about "surprise births" just stop me dead. And I don't mean surprise birth in the, "Oh, no, I went into pre-term labor!" way. But in the "Oh my goodness! I seem to be having a baby and I had no idea I was pregnant!" way.
Yes, this just happened again. To a fully grown woman. In Canada. (I know, the "in Canada" part is incongruous, but I'm so happy something incongruous just happened in Canada I had to mention it.)
Please go watch that video I just linked. I'll wait.
Credit Image: Charles Street Bakery on Flickr
So first things first: CONGRATULATIONS, crazy clueless couple! We are all (and I mean all of us out here in internetland who are leaning toward our computers trying to figure out WTF) so happy you both seem so happy and thrilled. Because that means this story does not have to have a tragic and upsetting ending, such as baby caught in drainpipes, or baby born and immediately suffocated at a high school prom, both stories of women who got pregnant and went into pregnancy denial, an actual medical term (though it applies to a psychological reaction, not a medical one). Pregnancy denial happens to a lot of women, but what we are talking about here is pervasive pregnancy denial -- because most women, experiencing missed periods, breast tenderness and swelling and morning sickness, along with unusual weight gain, will have to face what is happening inside their bodies.
But for whatever reason, this woman, Kendra Reid, didn't. Which leaves a lot of questions. Questions that I know every single woman who has heard this story wants to ask her. So to her, I say, Kendra, we want to put you in a tall, straight-backed chair and make you look directly in our eyes, while we ask these ten burning questions:
- Did it really never, ever occur to you, even once, that you might be preggers? C'mon. That's a hard one for most women to swallow. We spend years, decades of our life trying not to get pregnant. It becomes an interior mental dialogue that's always with you: I feel a little nauseous today. Wait, when did I last have my period? Oh, right, I'm having my period right now. Whew. I, at the tender age of 44, still have those reflexive thoughts, even though it would mean that I was giving birth to baby Jesus the 2nd, since I'm single and my love light is currently tucked onto a high shelf in my closet. So, really? Not once? Pshaw, I say.
- Didn't not having your period make you pause to wonder? Look, I don't love having my period every single month like clockwork. I don't throw myself a little "Yay! I'm menstruating" dance party every 28 days. So I get it: I might not be bummed if I skipped my period every now again. (That is, of course, assuming I wasn't worried I was pregnant: See #1.) But for 40 weeks? Which, P.S., is TEN MONTHS? I know, I know. You probably are a woman who had really irregular periods, as is often the case in women who have some pregnancy denial. But there's a difference between "irregular" and "never." In this case, that difference being a healthy, eight-pound baby boy.
- Tell us, please, how you wrapped your head around your expanding belly. Okay, that's not a question, but it still begs an answer. We are a pretty weight-obsessed culture -- probably even up there in Canada, although I know everyone is nicer there. So let's give you the benefit of the doubt. You thought you were putting on a few pounds: you're in love, you're living with your boyfriend, life has an easy rhythm. Except for the fact that the weight you gain when you are not pregnant is way different than the firm, hard basketball belly you get when there is a BABY INSIDE. I mean, it's not something you can dismiss as a "food baby," the big belly after a carb-heavy Italian meal. Weight gain = squishy, poky, rubbery flesh around one's middle, extending up the rib cage, and distributing usually pretty evenly around one's body. Baby = hard, firm distention of belly area, along with some hormonal softening everywhere else. Plus, your boobs get bigger. Did you think you were getting those boobies for free?
- About those boobies... I know, I know: Every pregnancy is different. But I knew I was pregnant about 10 seconds after the swimmer made contact with my ovum because suddenly even the slightest breeze brushing across my decollete made me wince in agony. I took to wearing a sports bra to work and wearing a restrictive camisole to bed. And oh. my. god. The pain of droplets from the shower hitting my nipples made me feel as if they were attached to electric nipple clamps. Just: Ow. None of that? Really? Not one bit?
- Were you trying to hide your pregnancy from your boyfriend.? C'mon, you can tell me. I won't tell anyone (except for the internets). It's an understandable impulse, since the terrifying truth is that homicide is more likely to kill a pregnant woman than a medical complication from her pregnancy. You may not have known this terrible statistic, but still.... No one likes surprising their significant other with the news of a baby when the baby wasn't planned. But I just have to pause and think that surprising him with a baby still attached to you by an umbilical cord in the bathroom the two of you share would seem like the least desirable way to break the big news. Next time, how about a delicious home-cooked meal and a bottle of champagne?
- Are you a drug addict or a late-stage alcoholic? It doesn't sound like you are. And you probably aren't. But I'm just reaching for anything that could explain what else could be going on in your life that would keep you from NOTICING YOU ARE PREGNANT. I hope neither of these things is true, because they're not good for the baby. And, frankly, not so good for you, either.
- Are you going to take parenting classes? Because parenting requires a very strong set of instincts, an attention to detail, a bottomless quest to know what is going on with your child. And history is showing you might not have those things.
- How about your friends and family and co-workers? We all know those wince-inducing stories of when people ask a woman when she's due... and she's not pregnant. Since they're so polite up there in Canada, perhaps everyone was waiting for you to make an announcement of what was obvious -- at least to them.
- Have you counted your blessings? You got a strong, healthy baby, without, it seems, really even trying. Do you know how many women (and men) are reading your story and thinking unfriendly thoughts... or just simply crying into their coffee, wishing that the stork had decided to drop your bundle at their house? Infertility is a corrosive kind of heartbreak. And today you broke a million hearts just a little bit more.
- Have you taken a shower yet? Don't answer that one. I know the answer. As does every other woman who has walked the path you are walking right now. (Though I hope you are still lying down. The shock of the birth alone should keep you in bed through at least the end of the week.) Showers will wait. As will the move you and your boyfriend had planned. And those concert tickets for next month. And, well, pretty much anything but learning how to take care of and getting to know your beautiful baby boy.
So those are my questions. In gratitude for your answers, please know that all of us moms are at the ready to answer any of your questions about this wild ride called motherhood. 'Cause lord knows, you've had one hell of a beginning.
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