Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"When are you going to be over your trouble, my dear?"

That's what a great-aunt said to my aunt 26 years ago when she was pregnant with her first baby.


Because pregnancy in her time wasn't something to be celebrated - it was something to bear.

Pregnant women weren't encouraged to lounge on a lotus leaf, chanting about her body as a temple.

Heck, the word pregnant was rarely even uttered. Particularly in my corner of the world, women worked hard throughout their pregnancies, salting fish, baking bread, washing clothes and chasing other kids out of the house. When the time came, the men went down to the wharf and the midwife or the woman's own mother (sometimes both, sometimes they were one in the same) moved in to help with delivery. Once baby was washed, swaddled and fed, the woman had a few days in bed before resuming her usual daily chores.

Trouble is all it was.An interruption to the work that had to be done.

Last month I visited my grandparents, and Mom, Grandma, an aunt and cousin and I all sat around discussing labour and delivery and general baby things. Labour is on my mind a lot, being somewhat (okay, a lot) terrified of needles, but I talk myself through the panic by telling myself women have been doing this - and surviving - for YEARS. I have nothing to worry about. During this family gathering, I voiced this opinion, saying something along the lines of, "not much has changed since you had your kids, Grandma - it's all the same equipment down there."

'Yes,' my grandfather piped up. 'And this reminds me just of the conversations we would have had, sitting around waiting for your father to be born, too."

He was trying to be funny. Because of course women may have discussed childbirth, but certainly not in the company of men, and probably not to the same analytical degree I was attacking it that evening.

I'm struck by the difference between my grandparents' generation and my own. Older women are likely to put their hands on my belly and predict boy or girl. Younger women ask if the can touch - yes - and ask, 'do you know what you're having?'

'A baby,' I invariably reply.

Some are insulted. Others laugh. But really, does it matter what I'm having? It's not like we're rushing out the paint the nursery pink or blue, and we definitely can't take the kid back and trade it in for a different model if we aren't satisfied with out purchase. I feel pretty strongly about this last hold out to the olden days of pregnancy - when the sex of the baby was a surprise till the end.

I'm glad Trouble is no longer a euphemism for Pregnancy. I am happy to stick out my tummy and let strangers rub the bump and be happy about becoming a mother and all. But I'm not ready to lounge on a lotus leaf either. After all, there are some things that are just plain troublesome - the heartburn and the restless legs, to name a few.

In other news, I am positively PANICKED about affording this kid and all its paraphenalia. Heading over to AlphaMom to make a list of Baby Essentials and consider registering at a few places for baby things.

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