We Didn't Know. We. Just. Didn't. Know. | How Movies and Television Have Left You Completely Unprepared for Pregnancy
For the past 27 years, I have been inundated with your stock, standard depictions of pregnancy. Now that I have been pregnant myself for at least the past 12 years (it feels that way) I have some bones to pick with the entertainment industry for their lies. Because, seriously, these mawfuckers lied to us. They lied to all of us.
Missed Lesson 1. Everything about this is disgusting.
Look. Pregnancy and childbirth is beautiful and natural and magical and love the earth and women power and I’ll be over here. BUT. When you are actually going through it, your body is not the magical fairy wonderland you hoped it would be. It’s a disaster area. And, sorry, but film and television only warned you about the stuff they thought you could handle. There’s a reason everyone in the history of broadcast pregnancies goes immediate from vomit to bitch with nothing in between, then shoots a baby out of their stuff. Because they didn’t feel that we needed to know about all the other stuff. The bad stuff. And it’s pretty bad.
Missed Lesson 2. No one gives a shit.
In movies and television shows, it goes two ways: either pregnant characters have subplots they need to focus upon, or they’re not always onscreen. But you, real life knocked up person, are always onscreen because you are alive and there are no jumpcuts to better stories in life. And while you may have wonderful, kind people who are 100% there for you throughout everything, you too may realize that you are a woman consumed. And you can’t stop it, even though you know that you are either preaching to the choir, or horrifying your similarly underprepared friends. And they don’t really want to hear every detail. Not people who have done it before, and certainly not people who haven’t. But you can’t stop talking about it. You are overcome. You have been replaced by a pod person filled with feelings.
Need proof? I’M WRITING A WHOLE POST ABOUT THIS ON A POP CULTURE WEBSITE WHERE I USUALLY WRITE SOAP BOX DIATRIBES ABOUT SNOOKI AND LINDSAY LOHAN. I cannot be tamed.
Missed Lesson 3. Everyone else is terrible.
I really feel cheated here, because someone should have told me. In his defense, Judd Apatow at least attempted it in Knocked Up, but I thought this whole montage was because Katherine Heigl is so heinous and everyone near her wanted to insult her, even Jessica Alba. But, no, they’ll do it to you, too. Here’s what I’ve gotten thus far.
“YOU’RE GONNA POP.” (as said literally exactly like this)
“Look at you! You’re ready to pop! [I mutter something about May] Oh. You’ve got a while.”
“[perky] When are you due? [horrified] Really? Just one baby? [disgusted] Okay.”
That bitch almost lost an arm.
The fact is, you are being pregnant wrong. And people will tell you about it. And they’ll tell you in a way that is really saying “I find you fat and gross and I know what you did to get like that and I know it involved filthy terrible things like your husband’s swimsuit area.” It’s weird.
And that’s not all. You’re doing everything else wrong, too. For Valentine’s Day, my husband and I went to a fancy restaurant and I threw on the nicest tarp I could find. We decided to order some (completely pregnancy-acceptable) sushi. I cannot even tell you the dirty looks I was getting from nearby tables. They could not see the fully cooked insides of this piece of sushi, they just saw the turtle with her head on backwards eating it and felt compelled to shame her.
It should be noted that in my remaining weeks, I’m actually looking for a fight. That’s why I go into Starbucks every morning for coffee, just waiting for someone to be horrified so that I can body slam them into the bags of Tribute and Asian-inspired mugs.
Missed Lesson 4. You are terrible, too.
Remember that thing I said about wanting to body slam someone into some coffee goods? That’s just me. I’m always body slamming bitches into coffee. That’s just how I do. But pregnancy has made it worse. THAT SAID, it did not make it worse the way movies made me think it would.
Pregnant chicks in movies have two modes: crying, and screaming. And I cry. Oh, do I cry. I cried when Willam got kicked off “Drag Race” last week. I cried when the baby laid weird. I cried when Starbucks gave me a mocha when I ordered hot chocolate. I cried so hard at The Descendents and promptly begged my husband never to die, then informed him that if he ever cheated on me, I’d kill him myself and not wait for a boat to do it for me. … I’m losing my point. Anyway, I didn’t scream that. I was very calm. That’s what no one told me, how rational my new emotions would feel. It’s like really bad PMS that never stops. Every insane feeling I have feels totally acceptable. My mom gets a mammogram and doesn’t immediately alert me of her results, you know, like she never does, and I call her sobbing because I know that she is riddled with cancers. The cat keeps running away from me and I know she is doing it because that feline whore knows I can’t run.
Missed Lesson 5. Complaining is unacceptable.
In movies and on TV, pregnant characters complain about feeling fat constantly. It generally becomes their whole character to an unnatural level. Where the fiction comes in is this: no one is stopping them.
I haven’t been allowed to “feel fat” in over eight months. No one will let me. This is not some horrible experience, and is in fact very sweet. Everyone who isn’t some old bitch stranger has been loving and kind and highly complementary, with most of my family texting me photos of certain celebrities with a disclaimer of “at least you don’t look like this” (I probably should have mentioned that in addition to being terrible, you will make other people terrible right along with you, in solidarity). But what do you call it when your body grows thirty-five pounds and you can no longer bend over and one time you fell off the toilet and nothing fits and you breathe like Marlon Brando? Because I keep wanting to call it fat. BUT NO ONE WILL LET ME. My shrink-in-training husband keeps informing me that I need to turn a negative into a positive, because I’m not “fat,” I’m pregnant. And I keep telling him that that’s all well and good until the 900th time he suggests Texas Roadhouse for dinner, because that shit’s not making me pregnanter, just fatter.
This weekend, I ate a whole cake. I ordered four boxes of Peanut Butter Patties Girl Scout cookies and they were gone in under a week, eaten in a single fifteen minute sitting apiece. My first trimester might as well have been sponsored by Arby’s because it was the only thing I could eat. I have consumed several thousand chicken gyros, all with extra sauce, and then I’ve licked the sauce off every piece of foil. That’s not the healthiest thing for me or my baby. But, dammit, no one is stopping me (except the endocrinologist) and I’ve now rationalized it to the point where I’m mid-burrito saying “this is a selfless act for my child, now get me a pizza.” There’s got to be a line between “eat whatever you want, you magical unicorn, you’ve earned it with your vagina” and “on the downslope to becoming Gilbert Grape’s mom.”
Missed Lesson 6. At some point, this kid is coming out.
This one has really just hit me in the past couple weeks, because, holy shit, this kid is actually going to come out. In movies, the baby comes at the end and we never really have to see them raise the little plot point. In TV shows, they either give the kid away or get canceled. It is rare to see a baby raised on television for more than a season (“Up All Night” might just be revolutionary). But my baby? This little person who lives inside me and headbutts my ribcage and seems to respond to the music of The New Pornographers, which gives me great hope? She’s coming out. She’s going to come out, and we have to not break her. By surviving my pregnancy, we get our toy surprise at the end: a totally worth it but totally terrifying tiny person, who will rely on us not to kill her and not to let her end up stripping to pay for dental hygienist college.
Wish us luck.