Archives: pregnant

Hints for the hopeless

Conchita Wurst belly bump

I’ve linked to it before, but this site does make me laugh. It’s a list of hints for dads. (I’m sure you’re aware, it’s not the only one.) Hints. Dadness for dummies.

Take number 2. Clean the bathroom. Or number 4. Take her out to dinner.

Dude, you have to be told this shit??? How did you manage to become a goddamn father in the first place? Any lady who lets a non-bathroom-cleaning bloke between her legs in the first place deserves to be looking wistfully at a list of dad-hints, bookmarking them or perhaps even sending a link in a suggestive email…

Just kidding. I’m still waiting for the foot-fucking-master, too.

Smells like hyperosmia

Pregnancy develops superpowers. Particularly, a herculean sense of smell. This is not the ideal sensory gift. Especially when the only other soul on the bus takes the seat right in front of you. A dude with a personal aroma so intense, it’s clear the grunge meister spent the past week basting in the bourbon that seeps from his own pores, smoking 200 cigarettes a day, and dear Uma, how long has it been since he washed that shoulder-length hair? The bus is almost empty. Which means you could move away, but surely that would hurt stinky-hair’s feelings? So you stay seated in nausea town.

Noses know

Noses know

BTW>>> Although pregnant women tend to say their sense of smell is heightened, this study says that’s baloney.

“You’re pregnant?! Oh, I thought that was just middle-age spread.”

The pink machine, and why I won’t tell you my baby’s sex

 

Oh yes, I have a problem with pink.

 

We had our 20-week scan last week, and for the first time in three pregnancies, I wanted to know what gender this little toad’s turned out. Not so I can bake a cake and colour the sponge pink or blue, or start stockpiling ruffled pink bloomers or macho blue truck-print onesies. No, I just reckon it’s been enough of a bloody surprise, this later-years’ pregnancy, and right now I’m over the surprises.

The Envelope

So, after the scan, we had the sex written down and sealed in an envelope. We opened it on Easter Sunday, just our immediate family. (Exactly half of us had guessed correctly, if you want to know.) And it will be a limited reveal. For a reason.

It's a...

I don’t want to appear ungrateful, but, if we are expecting a daughter, the last thing I want is visitors turning up with pink presents. Pink singlets, dresses, blankets, stretch headbands. Etc.*

It’s not the femininity that grates. It’s the colour.

Because pink has become a symbol.  Colour as hyper-simplified semiotics.

Pink = “girl”.

The commercialization and commodification of our kids has produced a corporate “pink machine”, and to a lesser extent, a blue one, but it’s pink that’s the most rigid. (And purple, that “other pink”. The ever-so-slightly tougher, yet still female-prescriptive, colour.) A corporate code to sell stuff. Segmenting the market by hue. Those racks of pinkness in clothing stores: pink, fluffy, feminized. I cannot remember more defined gendered children’s clothing in my 4-and-a-bit decades on this planet.

Girls are taught, from birth, that they have one colour, and their colour is pink.

Which would not be such a big deal if this was restricted to a rather dull fashion palette. But the pink girl-branding continues across all of a girl child’s consumer options. Clothes. Stationary. Kids’ yoghurt. Furniture. Toys.

Toys.

Walk the aisles of your local toy barn. Note the aisles that glow pink. It’s a little scary.

I have two sons. I’ve not had to face the pink machine, yet. As a mother of boys, I can avoid, with a certain smugness I confess, those toy shop aisles that glow in their Barbie rosiness. The “girls” aisles. Even non-gender-specific (or traditionally “boys”) toys are re-branded “for girls”. Pink-tinged blocks. Pink guns. Pink fucking Lego Friends.**

Girls are taught that pink (and sometimes purple) is their colour. And then they’re presented with a lesser range of toys branded “girl”.

Girls toys are coloured pink, and appear to be reverting to the 1950s. Boys toys aren’t just blue, they are every other colour.

Because pink designates girl, and then dutiful girls choose from the pink toys. Pink sections in toy stores encompass the traditionally “female” toys: the nurturing ones. Baby strollers and toy kitchens. Not superheroes or cars or tools or action figures.

Few traditionally “male” toys are coloured, or packaged, pink. Why is this an issue? Because a girl less likely to play with a construction set is less likely to want to be an engineer when she grows up. Or it may be harder to imagine being a scientist when you’re flouncing around in your pink gown and tiara, pushing a pink toy stroller. A girl caught up in the princess fantasy is less likely to play the hero in her own daydream, and rather more likely to seek her handsome prince saviour.

And please, lower those itchy trigger finger fingers from the reply button, mothers of girls. I understand that some girls actually choose to wear pink. That they want the frilly feminine. I get that. I, too, have friends whose gender-neutral raised daughters reached for the pink, frilly, tutu girly-ness as soon as they could assert their taste. Pre-kids, I may have claimed to be a “nurture above nature” feminist who believed that every bit of gender-stereotyped behaviour could be ascribed to societal influence. Then, of course, I had sons, the universe’s special gift for feminists, boys who turned into blokes despite my best efforts to keep life gender-neutral. Who turned sticks into guns when our house was gun-free.

I now think there’s a bit of nature AND nurture defining kids. But at the moment, girls are shoved by the mainstream onto a one-way gender conveyer belt.

My daughter, when she has an opinion (if she’s a she), sure, she can dress in pink or play with as much frilly pinkness as she wants. But until then, I plan to show her some options. I don’t remember pink owning kindergarten fashions during  the 1970s. (And the photographs, if I can find them, shall prove me right…) But I do remember being castigated for not spending enough time playing in doll’s corner (uh, puh-lease! What fun was there in a dusty space containing a toy cot, an ironing board, and a rack of smelly clothes?), choosing to hog the tractor instead. But that was 1974, for Uma’s sake! FORTY YEARS AGO. Are we sending out daughters back to a colour-coded dolls’ corner?

Because, as Rebecca Hain writes in her blog, the pink princess marketing is forceful, and is outstripping the choice that little girls used to have to choose pink or not.

And there it is: It’s not the colour, it’s the lack of choice.

My sons’ toys come in all shades. Girls toys rarely do. By reducing a girl’s perceived choice, gender roles are prescribed before the child even has a chance to choose how to define herself.

If you walk into my house with that toxic Disney Princess crap, it will be walking back out with you. Please don’t think me ungrateful.* I’d be delighted for you to visit the baby. She’ll have enough stuff (we all do!); you don’t need to bring anything at all. Please respect a feeble tilt at the commodified mainstream, and help me to keep her mind uncommercialised as long as I can. Babies and children are not just mini-consumers, and feminity is more than a colour.

 

*In fact, please don’t bring us any thing! Just turn up and have a cup of tea, and maybe hold the baby while I change out of my PJs at 4 in the afternoon. The best gift anyone gave me was a friend turning up when I was frazzled with my brand new firstborn, who looked at me and said, “please let me hold him while you go have a shower”.

**Ah, Lego Friends. Let’s go there in a later post.

 

Want more?

Since I’ve been working on this post, which I started a few weeks ago, I’ve stumbled across a number of articles across this theme. Here’s a tiny selection.

Analysis of the pink machine

Seeking a non-gendered McDonalds Happy Meal

Laura Nelson v gender apartheid in London

The fightback against gendered toys

It’s the marketing, stupid

The Baby Gender Diary

The pro-pink posse

What’s the problem with pink anyway? 

Everything pink is not lame

 

 

20 weeks

All of a sudden, we’ve passed halfway, & the bump rounds out proud& I can’t use my stomach muscles to hide it anymore, & I’m waken by indigestion (and leg cramps), & migraines come and go, & we get serious about hospitals, & I plan to write a will (for the first time), & name suggestions become less amusing, & all new conversations about the baby involve its gender, & there are all these babies out there to notice (and bumps!), & how the hell do you choose a pram anyway; can we just borrow one?, & what if this kid’s just not as awesome as the first two, & I’m desperately hoping that these severed breasts will work again, & nappies, oh nappies, dear God facing nappies again, & the boys are so incredibly excited, & I’m awake and superalert at 3:15am, & I cry at sad stories about strangers (by strangers), & I wouldn’t mind a Really Big Drink, & there’s a little person making fluttery somersaults in my belly!,  & I put my thin clothes away for a while, & we need to discuss a vasectomy, & all the kids I’ve known for years seem so big!, & I’m surprised I’m not scared at all, I’m excited, & I don’t really care about the line up for Splendour this year, & bloody hell, this is really happening.

Cool.

TIPS FOR DADS: 1.Rub her feet. Doing a hand or foot massage can help relieve a lot of tension and give you some quiet time to talk. I prefer using a mint lotion on my feet to help invigorate myself. Ask her what he preference is for lotion.

This helpful advice comes from one site of many. The foot rub is a fabled, seemingly compulsory dad duty. Apparently. 

Vincent: Would you give a guy a foot massage? Jules: Fuck you.

So when do these promised foot massages start? WHEN????

Numbers

Dirty Harry 44A school mum sitting next to me as we watch our sons play tennis offers congratulations, and says “welcome to the 44 club”. Her youngest is now nearly in school, and I had always thought she was my age or younger: frankly, I didn’t really think about her age at all.

There it is. Who gives a mental number to someone they meet anyway? And as it goes, age is nothing but a number.

Perhaps having kids later keeps you youthful! Now that’s not a wishful thought, that’s a liferaft.

The big reveal

The Big Reveal? Or the slow drip feed. The latter was so effectively put to use by Deb, my old friend, that I didn’t find out about her pregnancy until last Tuesday. That’s the day she was scheduled to give birth via caesarian. Deb’s a week older than me. Maybe I should take her lead…

So how to let it be known? There’s the “scan pic across social media” approach, but they all look a little too amphibious. That’s already on the Facebook page, and even I’m a little grossed out by it.

I thought the fact that I’d posted pictures of baked goods on my personal Instagram would have been enough of a hint, but friends can be dim these days. It must be our encroaching middle age.

Let’s see how others handle the reveal.

There’s this film clip.

There’s the horrible picture of a soft toy and a wee-soaked stick.

That's just wrong.

That’s just wrong.

 

There’s the picture of pasta sauce.

Pasta sauce

However, I know how to pronounce “prego”. And it ain’t “preggo”.
It’s in there… maybe we can work with that…

 

There’s a world of cringe out there.

Seeking a pithy statement of my own, seeking that crucial social media cut-through. Like a quiver of cheesiness, all prefaced by Guess what? 

Guess what?

“I’m not getting fat, I’m four months pregnant”

… edited to “Not fat. Pregnant” – T-shirt ready…

 

Guess what?

Those mood swings weren’t early menopause, after all.

 

Guess what?

We’ll never be able to afford a holiday involving air travel again! 

Daddyo and I settle on a trickle approach, leaving the kick-off up to our boys, who tell their school friends. A couple of phone calls, some face-to-facers, SMS’d scan pics, and we’re away.

I set up a blog, shimmy it out across social media, and back-date a stack of pre-written posts.

 

It’s awesome to finally embrace this event. I stick my due date into babycentre and sign up for the emails. (Finally.)

Now: to celebrate with a vintage Oaxacan embroidered dress. Hello, Ebay!

13-and-a-bit weeks

The morning of the Nuchal scan, and I still haven’t received my results from the non-invasive test. (They shouldn’t be far away.) Having this test in your 40s feels a hell of a lot different to 10 years ago. Actually, come to think of it, I didn’t have a Nuchal 10 years ago with #1.

I am anxious as Ryan Gosling’s new girlfriend.

It is a difficult tightrope to balance: watching your baby’s features on the ultrasound, and trying to maintain some sort of emotional distance, just in case. S/he’s perfect, floating along there, waving a little hand. The sonographer can’t get a neck reading, and quietly says she’s going to ask her boss to come in. My heart stops. After some dodgy attempts at small talk, a wave of the wand, and a bit of prodding, I’m told it looks ok. Numbers are clicked on the keyboard. I’m told my Downs probability, based on this scan and my earlier blood test, has dropped from 1 in 30 to 1 in 600-ish. Which is a relief. They don’t recommend an amniocentesis.

We visit my obstetrician, who waves two thumbs up. The iGeneScreen results have just arrived via email, and they’re good. That’s two positive screening results. I am so relieved my legs turn liquid. Dr Atticus tells me I’m fine to “go shout it from the rooftops”. I think we’ll quietly tell our 7 and 9 year old sons first.

Elderley multigravidas business

I am having bloods taken today for an iGeneScreen and the Nuchal test, for which I’ll have a scan around 13 weeks.

This morning, I read something that says by my age, 90% of my eggs will have something wrong with them. Now that’s a pleasant thought for today.

I go have a chat to the chickens.

Eggs

There are eggs, and then, there are eggs.

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