Pregnancy Nuggets of Wisdom

I sit at the kitchen table willing the conversation to move on, a smile fixed to my lips.

"Michelle, you're having a homebirth aren't you?"

Stares, gasps, silence.

It's lucky I'm not a private person. An entertainment journalist, notorious gossip and eternally sanguine, I relish most chances for attention.

But though rare, there are moments where I want to cover myself. Days where the lovely, stretchy, figure-hugging outfits I snapped on in a moment of pregnancy-awe are suddenly all too stretchy, a bit too snug and all too revealing. There are the occasional moments I want to smother my burning cheeks with my hands.

Glancing up nervously from the seasoned chatter of the mothers around me, now is one of those moments.

"My friend had a homebirth and absolutely swore by it but that does not sound like my cup of tea!" One well-meaning mother scoffs.

"A blow-up pool in the lounge and all that mess, forget it!"

"I just don't like my house that much," another laughs.

I was ready to join in the banter until my well-meaning friend openly reminded me just what this romantic novice of a mother was hoping to do.

I don't know why I'm nervous. I'm used to defending myself in this way.

I have just entered the third trimester of my very first pregnancy. I'm brimming with excitement and that rotund-bellied, fertile glow.

I'm also wheezing and hacking when I laugh. A giggle has transformed into what sounds suspiciously like a smoker's cough.I'm recovering from a chest infection.

"You won't ever get sick when you're pregnant, your body protects you from all that."

This year I've been sicker than I have since childhood.

In the heat of February I sweltered inside with the curtains drawn, the fan on full bore

and a bowl of ice chips by my bed as I willed my body to make it through two hours without vomiting.

The hoarse-voiced winds of autumn arrived and took mine away completely. Now winter's chill has settled deep within my chest.

I turned to my friends for sympathy.

"No, I never got sick."

I was just glad it wasn't flu. I'm supposed to be vaccinated against that.

Sunday magazine recently featured a series on topics you should not initiate conversation with over the dinner table. Vaccination was high on the list.

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'Anti-vaccinators look and sound just like you and they're out there'. I flicked the page.

I had been argued at by those close to me on both sides of the table. One side painted a picture of formaldehyde poisoning. Scoffs and jibes at ignorant risk-taking hippies flooded me from the other.

For the first time I didn't feel safe to open my mouth to anyone.

Even pre-conception, the advice was laid on thick.

"It can take a year to conceive," a well-meaning friend cautioned. "I would suggest if you are even thinking of wanting to get pregnant in the future, you should start trying now."

Such well-meaning advice has been waiting to pounce from every corner.

"You're not going to put a photo of your scan on Facebook are you?!" I was asked, no told, by more than one friend before I even had the privilege of setting eyes on my little one.

Even finding out the sex of our child was something I felt pressured about.

Just weeks into pregnancy I was told by an acquaintance and apparent psychic I had the "aura" of a male around me. Others soon jumped on the bandwagon. Friends, not psychics that is. Everyone seemed to be in unison, "you're having a boy".And how did they know? "You're craving salty foods and cider." Even my midwife chimed in.

But I have always craved salty foods and cider.

Still, I found this kind of 'advice' fun.

I soon learned babies and advice don't always equate such light-hearted banter.

"Do you have a Dr Sprott mattress protector?"

Doctor Who? No, I...

"They are the only thing that can protect your infant from inhaling fire-retardant mattress chemicals and protect them from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)."

Well, really, I...

"Do you have a breastfeeding chair? You spend the equivalent of an eight hour working day feeding a newborn so you're bound to get back problems if you don't have a breastfeeding chair."

Oh, I hadn't heard...

"You want to sleep with your baby in your room? See how long that lasts. Your husband will probably opt for the spare room and you will never enjoy a sleep-in again."

Is that true? Oh, Ok...

I sit at the kitchen table willing the conversation to move on, a smile fixed to my lips.

- Originally published here at Essential Mums.


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