Roma Kojima is a soon-to-be mom of a tiny, wriggly girl. Aside from growing a human, she works in business development at Rogers Media, loves to travel and cook, and obsesses about leather purses she can’t afford. Follow along as she shares her pregnancy journey.
I’ve never been good at being told how to live. Which is ironic since I come from a place where that’s all anyone ever does.
When I was single, all I heard was “Why aren’t you married?” with hidden notes of “It’s probably because she’s so bossy.” When I had a boyfriend, it was “Oh. So he’s not Indian?” When I got married, it was “You should have kids soon. When are we going to get some ‘Good News’?” Thank you, My-Mother’s-Friend-I-Barely-Know. I’ll be sure to bring a pen next time to take notes on behalf of my uterus. KTHXBAI.
And now I’m actually pregnant. Four and a half months of things growing, shrinking and threatening to upchuck all over the place. Actually, I’m lying. Ain’t nothing shrinking these days. Other than the fascination with my rapidly expanding arse, I find that being pregnant is an interesting exercise in the observation of human behavior.
I no longer live in India, but this is the first time in all the years I’ve lived in North America where I’ve noticed people getting all up in my business. I can only assume that something about pregnancy brings about a sort of adopted ownership of someone else’s life (and body) in everyone — no matter where you live.
Everyone warned me about opinions when I got pregnant. I knew I was in for a world of judgy bloggers and “sanctimommies”, insisting that without the right organic babywash or Bugaboo stroller, I would be a terrible mother. I decided to studiously avoid all mommy blogs so that I didn’t have to deal with all the noise. It turns out, however, that you can’t block out the noise pouring directly into your ears.
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Lest this sound judgemental in its own right, let me preface by saying that I have no idea what I’m doing — I don’t pretend to. I also have no problem with advice — when I ask for it. That said, sometimes I just want to pay for my purchase at the grocery store without having to listen to the cashier talk about her stretch marks.
I honestly don’t get it with the unsolicited advice. Or the horror stories. Sure, I appreciate what you went through. I’ve never been through it, even though I know labour and delivery are imminent — but I honestly don’t know what to do with the knowledge that your child’s head was the size of a pumpkin. Or that you can’t handle any woman that doesn’t breastfeed. Am I supposed to have a stern conversation with my unborn fetus about making sure her head is as conical and small as possible?
Recently, I was at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. Overhearing the discussion between my friend and me about my pregnancy, a woman I’d never met insisted on telling me that I should definitely give myself a perineal massage with olive oil to avoid an episiotomy, just as she did. Oh, and she told the entire story with her 10-year-old son sitting next to hear, eating a sandwich. I can’t even.
Five months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to explain why parents-to-be are so possessive and secretive of baby names. I’m a relatively open person, so the whole concept of upsetting someone or having others involved with the name you choose for your child is a totally foreign concept to me. After all, isn’t every other kid named Joshua or Kayla now? Surely no one’s going to care what names I choose for mine.
Boy, was I ever wrong. Since finding out that I’m having a girl not three days ago, I have already been informed that I should choose an Indian name, been provided with lists of suggestions, and even received a vague threat from a friend to not use a particular name (it wasn’t even on my list).
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I get the concept that it takes a village to raise a child. I fully believe it. I love that those around me are excited for me to have a child and to be in her life. But I do have to say that with a few notable exceptions, I find it easier to keep the company of friends that don’t have children than those that do. I don’t know what to say to strangers that insist on getting all up in my vagina’s business, and distant family members that inform me that “It had better be a girl!” when I inform them I am expecting. Perhaps this makes me ungrateful, or maybe just unimaginative because I don’t know how to deal with unsolicited advice and labour stories. Or perhaps, just like setting up a nursery, part of being pregnant is developing a fresh layer of thick skin so that deeply personal comments about your reproductive system no longer make me so uncomfortable.
What about you? Have you dealt with this intrusion into your personal, reproductive space? Do you have any suggestions for how I should deal with it?