"Get out of the way! It's an emergency. We have a pregnant lady in the house and she needs to get to her gigantic bowl of salad right now! Moveeeee people...."
Fine. He didn't really say that...But there was something about the way the manager furiously snaked across cramped tables in one of Mumbai's hottest, most-buzzing salad bars, hushing words to his staff and customers, actively expressing the discomfort he felt on my account, that went fittingly with that exclamation. Surely some curious divinity was at play. I took one askance glance at the long queue of people who were, strangely enough smiling, not mad at the manager for making me feel like royalty. Curiouser. Ha! I smiled cheekily; of course, I was high-fiving my baby bump for bailing me out of yet another potentially miserable waiting-line.
This is my second pregnancy but in some aspects, especially in terms of feelings and bonding, it feels like a first.
I've been around women who get this innate, spiritual mommy-voice activated the moment they witness the fated two lines. They watch their bellies grow, have strangers say hello to the baby, refer to themselves as 'We", hold spontaneous pep talks with the baby, grow plants, click weekly bump pictures, glow and emit that fetching mommy-to-be radiance, plan and think ahead.... Well, you get the picture.
I am not one of those women. At least, I could have been their arch nemesis in my first pregnancy. I was employed full-time throughout my pregnancy so I had no time to dwell on what was going on with my body and baby. The only time I connected with my daughter was when I caught my reflection in the mirror. All I could gather myself to say—and even that felt ludicrous—was "What's up baby? How's the weather inside?"
I do feel terribly guilty about that. So this time to make amends, I've found a middle ground. I am taking notes. I watch and observe. I watch my belly contort in disgusting ways when the baby's getting all alien-like, trying to jump out of my uterus/womb. (Is it me or does the word 'womb' sound creepy AF?) I baby-talk to it. I just cannot get myself to talk to the baby like a grown-up cos well, then I'll confuse it with my inner-voice and treat it like a shrink. Now, before you tell me I can't refer to my angelic baby as an "It", it is only for the sake of convenience and gender-neutrality.
Anyway, I thought there'd have to be other women on this planet who're like me and the only time they emit that pregnancy glow is when they're in the flattering kinda warm light or from morning sickness sweats.
I'm here to tell YOU, pregnancy-phobic woman who's casually toying with the idea of starting a family, that despite all the pains that it brings, there are a few perks of sporting a baby bump, ones that you'll terribly miss when the baby's un-morphed itself out of your being and taken along the spotlight with it:
1. Nine months of starry PJs and tent-like, breathable clothes:
Bottom-line : Pregnant women are expected to be comfortable, no matter which red carpet event they have been inconvenienced to attend. The usual dress code norm doesn't apply so breathe and blossom in your favourite stretchy PJs and flannel sweats. Oh and it doesn't hurt that some of the maternity lines are gorgeously flattering and comfortable. Expensive yes but worth the million-dollar feeling of belonging in your tailor-made fit.
2. Hormonal in the right way:
Who doesn't love a furious hair brush that doesn't return with loose strands of hair fleeing from your head? Now pregnancy does wonders to your hair. Most pregnant women will experience arrested hair loss and grow their tresses longer in pregnancy, thanks to the good hormones and nutritional supplements. At least, the second trimester does its bit of making you feel like you're on top of your game with magically-disappearing acne, voluminous hair and curvier curves.
3. The Pampering Rituals and Royal Treatment:
As I've already established, the moment your bump is visible, people will shower you with compliments, concerns and pot pies. "How's your health sweetie?" "Is there anything you feel like eating today?" "Did you sleep alright?" You're only human, so of course you may be tempted to make the most of all the attention. Guess what? You can and should. You're not being parasitic or obsessively self-centered. Take liberties. Go ahead and cross a busy, uncaring street. You will stop traffic. Be rude and fall asleep right in the middle of a roaring party. You'll wake up to bright and endearing smiles and a cushy blanket.
4. Cravings that are not symptomatic of food disorders:
Remember how in the middle of the night your husband found you with your head and hands buried deep inside the refrigerator digging out leftover rajma rice or a tub of chocolate ice-cream? And you could feel that piercing judgment on his face that perennially ruined your secret midnight-snack escapade. Well, same situation. Except no guilt trips. "The baby made me do it." As long as you're eating everything good for you and your baby, you're encouraged to do it more. (Read controlled caffeine and no alcohol, which may not necessarily spell nirvana for everyone.)
5. Forgetfulness, hurtful meltdowns, insensitivity to other mortals—it remains in that sweet, spotless zone of mind where it's all forgiven:
While you may not be shedding any hair during pregnancy, you will shed uncontrollable, bitter, resentful tears. Over a bad cup of tea. Over your husband getting marginally late from work. Not pleasant. What is comforting though is that now all your sudden meltdowns and ill-timed outbursts come backed with a medically-sound factfile. In other words, no remorseful repercussions to follow.
Word of Caution: This is a temporary phase of power - a glossy bubble that'll burst sooner or later. Don't get used to it.
6. Not having to bend over:
As you progress towards the third trimester, you'll find that bending to pick anything is getting increasingly difficult. Especially when you get to a point when you can't see your toes. Which is why this'll be a great sunshiney time to make hay and experiment with different necklines. First of all, you won't have to worry about peepshows from bending over and second of all, you feel a lot more confident and sexier (on some days). And if you happen to accidentally drop your keys in public, it'll evoke a Ninja-like reflex from passersby—the keys shall be picked before you can control your wheeze to ask for help. So by all means, flaunt what your Mama hormones gave you :).
7. No matter what's happening to your body, you feel you can accomplish anything:
"Honey, how was your day? What did you do? Oh, you cracked that presentation. Good for you! What did I do? Oh I just made my baby's toes and fingers."
Despite the panda eyes, heartburn and swollen ankles you're sporting, there's something incredibly empowering about creating another human. You're gripped with this overwhelming feeling that you can conquer the world. Great time to lead a project or start a new venture cos you haven't felt more God-like before.
8. Nine Months of Holistic, Healthy Lifestyle:
Let's face it. We don't really worry about what we're putting inside our bodies until we have another human inside of us. Words like holistic nutrition, wellness and spirituality are fancy mumbo-jumbo that don't apply to you on a regular basis. But when you're pregnant, you're biologically forced into eating fresh, nutrition-packed, small-sized portions of food at regular time intervals. Try and betray that rule and see how your body plays havoc on you. (Read: Acid reflux) For that reason, you'll find you're drawn to fresh food rather than take-outs. You'll read the fine print on food labels before popping it in your mouth. You'll be keeping a food diary.
So while you may be obnoxious company for friends on a lunch date, your body and baby can't thank you enough.
9. You get a cute baby at the end of it:
Let's face it. The third trimester is rough. You'll lose sleep, appetite, rationality, cell phones...So it helps to know that the shore is near and pretty soon, you'll be holding this cute, tiny, adorably helpless human in your arms that you hadn't even met before and are already irrevocably in love with. And he/she loves you right back unconditionally. So get ready to feel really special. (Small Disclaimer: The unconditional clause lasts only till your baby discovers the toy store.)
Experienced/expectant moms, got any fun perks to share? Let's change this world one baby at a time :).